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Concussions force winger Kariya to retire

WINNIPEG, Manitoba — Paul Kariya announced his retirement from the NHL on Wednesday after being unable to return from post-concussion symptoms that forced him to miss all of last season.

Kariya announced the end of his 15-season career in a statement released by his agent, Don Baizley.

The former star left wing finished his long NHL stint with the St. Louis Blues. Kariya had missed six games in December and January of the 2009-10 season because of a concussion and announced in August that he would sit out the entire 2010-11 season after being examined by concussion specialist Dr. Mark Lovell.

Kariya, 36, scored 402 goals and helped set up 587 others with Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis. He was also a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner.

"It was my dream to be a professional hockey player in the NHL from my minor hockey days in North Vancouver and Burnaby, through junior hockey in Penticton, college hockey at the University of Maine and the Canadian National Team," Kariya said. "I would not have achieved it without support from all of these people and organizations."

Kariya won the Hobey Baker Award as the top U.S. college hockey player at Maine in 1993 and was chosen by Anaheim with the No. 4 pick in that year's draft. It was with the Mighty Ducks that Kariya became a star, notching three 40-goal seasons — including a high of 50 in the 1995-96 campaign — and two seasons with more than 100 points.

"I would like to thank all of those who have been part of so many great memories -- my teammates, coaches, team management and staff," he said. "I am also very grateful for the support I have received over the years from the fans, especially those in Anaheim, Colorado, Nashville, and St. Louis."

Kariya has a long history of concussion troubles, including one that forced him to miss the 1998 Winter Olympics and much of the 1997-98 season following a cross-check to the jaw by Chicago's Gary Suter.

Rangers, Drury part ways

The Rangers bought out the final year of captain Chris Drury's contract yesterday, making the veteran forward an unrestricted free agent after four seasons in New York.

The move announced yesterday will give the Rangers some salary cap relief for the upcoming season and could help them sign long-coveted Dallas Stars center Brad Richards, who is expected to be the best available player in the unrestricted free agent market that opens Friday.

Drury will be given $3.333 million for the buyout that closes the five-year, $35.25 million deal he signed with the Rangers after leaving Buffalo as a free agent in 2007.

Canadiens deal defenseman

The Montreal Canadiens traded the rights to defenseman James Wisniewski to the Columbus Blue Jackets for a seventh-round pick Wednesday.

A condition of the deal is that if the Blue Jackets are able to sign the potential unrestricted free agent to a contract, the pick will be in the fifth round next year rather than the seventh.

The power-play specialist had 51 points (10 goals, 41 assists) in 75 games last season. He earned $3.25 million last season.

working on a deal

Goaltender Dwayne Roloson is close to re-signing with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The sides worked Wednesday to finalize a one-year contract for Roloson, a major contributor in Tampa Bay's run to the Eastern Conference finals. The team isn't commenting until the deal is completed. The Lightning have also re-signed center Adam Hall to a one-year contract.

Around the league

Chad LaRose has signed a two-year deal worth $3.4 million to stay with the Carolina Hurricanes. ... The Buffalo Sabres avoided arbitration by re-signing center Nathan Gerbe to a three-year contract. ... The Tampa Bay Lightning have re-signed center Adam Hall to a one-year contract. Hall, a former Penguin, had seven goals and 18 points this past season. ... The Dallas Stars have re-signed defenseman Brad Lukowich to a one-year, two-way contract, and hired Paul Jerrard as an assistant coach. ... The Vancouver Canucks signed center Maxim Lapierre and defenseman Andrew Alberts to two-year contracts.

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