NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Take away the red line, add shootouts to end ties and the chance for two-line passes.
Mix that with a speedy, hard-working team, and Paul Kariya said Monday it was an easy decision to pick the Nashville Predators as his new home.
The Predators introduced Kariya at a news conference after announcing Friday that they had signed the 10-year veteran and seven-time All-Star to a $9 million, two-year contract. Kariya said this team is a perfect fit.
“I think all the rules changes really benefit this club. It’s a team based on speed and work ethic and the goaltending. I think the rules changes that come into play are only going to benefit Nashville,” Kariya said.
“And that’s one of the reasons why I chose here.”
Kariya heard from more than half the teams in the NHL during free agency even though he was coming off his worst season as a pro in his one season with Colorado. He scored only 36 points and played in 51 games in 2003-04 because of injuries.
He had been just one of many stars with the Avalanche, and Kariya said he welcomes the opportunity to be the top player on and off the ice.
Kariya sees no comparison with his first NHL team, the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. He helped lead the Mighty Ducks from an expansion franchise to the 2003 Western Conference champions and now is on a team with only six seasons of history.
The Predators started with the promise of building through the draft, and owner Craig Leipold helped negotiate the new labor deal that includes the NHL’s first salary cap at $39 million and is very friendly to small market teams such as Nashville.
Leipold was beaming as he handed Kariya his new sweater at the news conference, and he said he knows it took the Predators time to reach this point. But he said he believes they finally have something really special to offer.
“This is a team that’s going to be a lot of fun to watch. We’ve built this team based on the new rules, a fast team that is going to be a winning team,” Leipold said.
General manager David Poile said it was easy to sign Kariya thanks to the level playing field brought by the new labor agreement. He sees Kariya as the type of player with his 705 career points to challenge other players to be better, and now the Predators must realize they really are in a competitive era.
“It makes a great statement for a small market like Nashville to be put on the map with the other teams, people in the National Hockey League that were somewhat naysayers whether Nashville was going to make it,” Poile said. “We’re going to give it our best both on and off the ice.”
Coach Barry Trotz thinks Kariya will fit on his roster perfectly, and he looks forward to having him as an option on shootouts.
Goaltender Tomas Vokoun, who won a world championship with the Czech Republic, said it wasn’t easy watching other teams stock up on free agents early last week. Adding Kariya gives the Predators a big confidence boost.
“We have as good a chance as everybody, and I really believe that ... This team can go all the way,” Vokoun said.
PHT: Colin Greening scored 7:39 into the second overtime, lifting the Senators to a win in Game 3 and trimming the Penguins' series lead to 2-1.
Video: NHL from NBC Sports
Highlights: Senators win double overtime thriller
The Pittsburgh Penguins were under a half-minute away from taking a 3-0 lead in their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Ottawa Senators, but Daniel Alfredsson ended that thought by beating Tomas Vokoun to send the game into overtime. One overtime wasn’t enough for these two teams, so a second one had to be played in order to find a winner. Ottawa's Colin Greening scored midway through the second OT.
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