The Pittsburgh Penguins traded the NHL's all-time leading scorer among defensemen, Paul Coffey, to the Los Angeles Kings and right wing Mark Recchi to the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday in a three-club deal involving seven players and two draft choices.
The Penguins will receive defenseman Jeff Chychrun from the Kings.
The Flyers will give Pittsburgh right wing Rick Tocchet, defenseman Kjell Samuelsson and goalie Ken Wregget as well as a draft choice to be named later.
The Flyers will receive Kings defenseman Brian Benning and the Kings' first-round draft choice in 1992.
Trade rumors have been flying for most of the season about Coffey and the two right wings in the trade.
New Flyer Recchi, 24, was fourth in the NHL scoring race last year with 40 goals and 73 assists and is running 13th this year with 70 points.
New Penguin Tocchet, 27, scored 153 goals over the last four seasons but has missed 15 games because of injuries and has only 13 this season.
"It's going to be tough," said Coffey, 30, as he stashed gear into a car at the Civic Arena. "I have a lot of fond memories of Pittsburgh. That's for sure."
Coffey said that after he learned about the trade late Tuesday night, he skated alone on the ice at the arena until 2 a.m., recalling the support he has received from Pittsburgh fans.
"If you're going to be traded I'm a pretty lucky guy," Coffey said.
For one thing, the deal reunites him with Wayne Gretzky, with whom he played on the Edmonton Oilers during their glory years. Coffey said he and Gretzky talked Tuesday night.
Coffey became the NHL's all-time scoring defenseman earlier this season, passing New York Islanders great Denis Potvin. He's scored 317 goals and has 791 assists for 1,108 points in 863 games. This season he has 10 goals and 53 assists.
Penguins general manager Craig Patrick, whose defending Stanley Cup champions are in fourth place and not yet assured of a playoff berth in the tough Patrick Division, said the deal was not made primarily to save money.
"The deal improved the areas we want improve," he said.
Flyers general manager Russ Farwell said at a news conference in Philadelphia that the trade presented an ideal situation.
"It's no secret we've been searching for a scorer," he said. "This trade let us do that. Recchi is a good scorer, Benning also is a good scorer and is feisty."
Farwell said the trade was good for all three teams. "The best two players are Recchi and Coffey," he said. "Pittsburgh gave them up for defensemen, and a backup goalie. They figured they had enough offense, and needed the defensemen more."
The key player for the Penguins was Tocchet.
"Pittsburgh needs some aggressiveness and I think I'll be able to provide it," he said. "I think I'm going to help Pittsburgh in goal scoring, and it's going to be refreshing to play with one of the greatest scorers in the world, Mario Lemieux."
Coffey knew he could be traded at any time.
"I'm not like some of those baseball players who have no-trade clauses," he said Tuesday night, after the Penguins' 7-1 victory over the Minnesota North Stars.
"The rumors started in training camp, they heated up when the new ownership took over and they heated up again at the All-Star break," he said.
Trade rumors involving Coffey began to circulate in November when a group led by Howard Baldwin bought the Penguins from Edward DeBartolo, Sr. It was believed the new ownership group, not as wealthy as DeBartolo, would need to dump at least one expensive contract from the team's already bloated payroll.
Rangers' Gartner gets three-game suspension
TORONTO _ Right wing Mike Gartner of the New York Rangers was suspended for three games for slashing Pittsburgh defenseman Ulf Samuelsson on Feb.
In making the announcement Wednesday, NHL executive vice-president Brian O'Neill said, "It is clear that Gartner was annoyed and swung at the Pittsburgh player in retaliation for the check he had received previously. retaliation cannot be used as an excuse for swinging a stick at an opponent."
Gartner's suspension, without pay, is effective immediately, since the Rangers decided not to appeal.
Devils call up Guerin, their top pick in 1989
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. _ Bill Guerin, among the last players cut from the U.S. Olympic team, was recalled from Utica by the New Jersey Devils.
Guerin played 10 games for the Devils' American Hockey League team and had eight goals and four assists, with all the points coming in his last seven games. He was the fifth pick in the 1989 NHL draft.