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Sending for help

Rangers trade for Dunham; Richter out for season

Posted: Thursday December 12, 2002 8:50 PM
Updated: Thursday December 12, 2002 9:57 PM
  MIke Dunham MIke Dunham won a total of 44 games with the Predators the past two seasons. Mitchell Layton/Getty Images/
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NEW YORK (AP) -- Mike Richter is out for the season and the New York Rangers didn't miss a beat in acquiring goaltender Mike Dunham to replace him.

Richter hasn't played since a concussion on Nov. 5, and it was determined Thursday night that he would not play again this season. At the time of that announcement, the Rangers traded with the Nashville Predators to get Dunham.

General manager Glen Sather said he was exploring deals the past 10 days as Richter was slow to recover from being kneed in the head against the Edmonton Oilers.

"I anticipated getting better from the moment I got hit," Richter said. "I didn't even expect to miss a practice."

Dunham was sent to New York for forward Rem Murray, defenseman Tomas Kloucek and the rights to defenseman Marek Zidlicky. The Rangers have started 19-year-old Dan Blackburn in all 17 games without Richter.

Sather didn't say who would take Richter's place as the Rangers' top goalie. He's just looking for someone to help them better a 12-15-4-1 mark.

"Mike has been a No. 1 goaltender," Sather said. "I suppose it depends how things shake out with him and Danny. I'm more concerned with winning games than who will be No. 1 or No. 2.

"I didn't want to see Danny lose his confidence and struggle and have our team struggle."

The determination that Richter was lost for the final 50 games led Sather to pull the trigger on the trade.

"I thought Dan has played very well. He looked liked he was starting to get tired," Sather said. "To expect him to be the goaltender for the next 50 games wouldn't be fair to him or fair to us so we had to make a deal."

In a separate trade, the injury-riddled Rangers also acquired forward Josh Green from Edmonton for a conditional pick in the 2004 draft.

The 36-year-old Richter, the winningest goalie in Rangers history, has battled significant injuries each of the last four seasons. In 2000, he needed reconstructive surgery on his left knee. The following season, he sustained a similar injury to his right knee.

He missed the latter part of last season after he was struck by a shot that caused a skull fracture and a concussion.

Richter saw two concussion specialists this week -- Dr. Karen Johnston in Montreal on Monday and Dr. James Kelly in Chicago on Tuesday. Both recommended he not play again this season, and the final determination to sit out was made Thursday after Richter spoke with Johnston by telephone.

No determination has been made on what Richter's playing future will be past this season.

"I really love the game," he said. "Right now, I've been advised that I can't play and they won't let me. That's very difficult to accept at this time."

Blackburn was the only Rangers goalie to play since Richter went down, until Johan Holmqvist replaced Blackburn at the start of the second period Wednesday night. Richter earned his 300th NHL victory earlier this season.

But since getting hurt he has been struggling just to perform everyday activities, let alone any kind of physical workout.

"It's amazing how you really can't participate in life," he said. "Your brain has been hit and your central nervous system is really out of whack."

The Rangers lost Wednesday night to Chicago without Richter, captain Mark Messier, top defenseman Brian Leetch, leading goal-scorer Pavel Bure and agitator Matthew Barnaby. The Rangers then lost defenseman Sylvain Lefebvre in the second period when he broke his right index finger.

Bure was examined in Alabama on Thursday by Dr. James Andrews to get a second opinion on his left knee, which was injured last Friday night. An MRI taken last weekend was inconclusive as to how much damage was done.

There was no immediate report from Andrews' examination.

Bure had been waiting for swelling to go down before undergoing arthroscopic surgery to clean out torn cartilage and determine if the anterior cruciate ligament needed repair. Bure was hurt when he banged knees with Buffalo's Curtis Brown.

Dunham split time this season with Tomas Vokoun. He played in 15 of 28 games going 2-9-2 with a 3.15 goals-against average. Like Richter, Dunham has represented the United States in multiple Olympics including in this year's Salt Lake City Games.

"It was time to make a change," Predators general manager David Poile said. "We have not had a clear cut situation this year in terms of our goaltending."

Dunham played two seasons with the New Jersey Devils before being chosen in Nashville's expansion draft four years ago. Dunham is 94-116-28 in his NHL career.

Green has just two assists in 20 games this season. He was acquired from the New York Islanders before the 2000-01 season, but he didn't play for the Oilers at all because of two shoulder injuries.

He had 10 goals and five assists in 61 games last season with the Oilers.

Murray came to New York from Edmonton at the trade deadline last season and had one goal and two assists in 11 games. He had six goals and six assists this season, playing in all 32 games.

Kloucek had three goals and four assists with Hartford of the AHL this season.

 
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