Buffalo Sabre captain Pat LaFontaine was traded to the New York Rangers for a second-round draft choice after disagreements among doctors over whether a concussion would end his career.
LaFontaine had been haggling with the Sabres for more than a month after two of his own doctors said he can play while Buffalo's team physicians disagreed. He received clearance from the Rangers' medical staff last week.
"It's tremendously exciting to get back and play a game I love," LaFontaine said. "I think you'd have to get your head checked if you didn't want to come back and play with these types of players. No pun intended."
The Sabres will receive the draft choice in 1998.
He is expected to fill a void left at center when Mark Messier signed with the Vancouver Canucks.
The St. Louis Blues, two days away from the season opener against Buffalo, continued to have a problem with right wing Brett Hull's demands. Hull, 34, wants $5 million a year for four or five years and the Blues, noting his age and declining production, have countered with $10 million for three years.
"We feel very strongly the type of offer we've put on the table, in our mind, fits into the structure that we're trying to build here, now and in the future," General Manager Larry Pleau said.
"We want Brett Hull here, but the type of contract he's asking for we just don't see a way of fitting into the structure."