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Caps purge payroll, send Jagr to Rangers

Jaromir Jagr was traded to the Rangers on Friday, capping more than six months of off-and-on negotiations that ended a 2{-year stay with the Capitals.

Jagr was traded for forward Anson Carter, but most of the negotiations were about how much of Jagr's contract, worth $11-million per season, the Capitals would pay.

"This trade is a good one in that it moves the largest player contract in the NHL to a team that can absorb it," Capitals owner Ted Leonsis said. "And it provides us with options as we seek to improve our team."

Leonsis said the Capitals won't pay any more of Jagr's salary this season, saving about $5-million, and will pay between $4-million and $4.5-million for each of the remaining four guaranteed seasons. Jagr and the Rangers agreed to defer about $1-million a season from the remainder of the contract.

"He's been a great player," Rangers coach and general manager Glen Sather said. "And I would think he would come to New York and be the same player he's been throughout his career."

Leonsis said he had to move Jagr, who is expected to be in the Rangers lineup tonight, because of the "new economic reality" the league faces with a possible salary cap.

The Capitals have not fulfilled expectations since acquiring Jagr, who turns 32 on Feb. 15, from Pittsburgh in 2001 and signing him to a seven-year, $77-million contract. They failed to reach the playoffs in his first season and was eliminated in the first round last season. Attendance has sagged for a franchise that already was losing about $20-million per season.

"He is an extremely talented player," Capitals general manager George McPhee said. "This was just a chemistry experiment that didn't work out."

This season, Jagr has 16 goals and 30 assists and was chosen to play in his ninth All-Star Game.

"It didn't work the way everybody expected it was going to work," he said. "A lot of things maybe everybody should have done different. It's too late to look back. Now I want to look forward, and I apologize to all the people who are disappointed. Life is not perfect. I did the best I could."

The Rangers also acquired Jamie Pushor from the Blue Jackets for an eighth-round pick in June. In his ninth season, Pushor didn't score in seven games with Columbus and had one goal and four assists in 24 games with Syracuse of the AHL.

Already without defenseman Tom Poti (back spasms), the Rangers lost two more when Greg de Vries and Darius Kasparaitis suffered serious leg injuries this week.

KINGS: Forward Martin Straka had arthroscopic surgery for damaged cartilage in both knees and is out indefinitely. Straka, who has 10 goals and 13 assists in 40 games, injured his left knee Jan. 10 and his right knee a week earlier.

STARS: Defenseman John Erksine was activated after missing four games with a calf laceration. He has one assist and 79 penalty minutes in 31 games.

THRASHERS: Center Marc Savard was placed on injured reserve with a sprained knee ligament sustained in a knee-to-knee collision Jan. 14. In 32 games, he has 15 goals and 26 assists.

PANTHERS 4, CAPITALS 1: Donald Audette had two power-play goals to reach 500 points for host Florida. The Panthers took a 1-0 lead 5:42 in when Audette, working from the left corner, rifled a shot past Olaf Kolzig. It became 2-0 a minute into the second on Byron Ritchie's blast from just above the left circle. Joel Kwiatkowski brought Washington to within 3-1, but Audette scored 2:57 later to seal it.

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