NEW YORK, N.Y. - Bryan McCabe had been linked to the New York Rangers for so long, the veteran defenceman was already thinking about his Broadway debut three years ago.
Now at 35, and in the twilight of his career, McCabe has landed in New York with the hope of making his stay last at least through a long playoff run. Nothing is guaranteed beyond the final weeks of this season because McCabe can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
But the price was right to get him now, costing the Rangers only forward Tim Kennedy—who has spent all season with Connecticut of the AHL—and a 2011 third-round draft pick in a trade with the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
McCabe, who waived his no-trade clause to come to the Rangers, hasn't been in the playoffs since 2004 with Toronto. New York is the sixth team of his 15-season NHL career that began with the New York Islanders in 1995.
He expects to get comfortable in his new digs quickly. McCabe already knows the area well and his wife, Roberta—who is pregnant with the couple's third child—is a Long Island native.
"I'm just here to play it out and have fun and hopefully make a run in the playoffs and chase a Cup," McCabe said Sunday before the Rangers faced the Tampa Bay Lightning. "I'm getting down to the dog years here, so hopefully it's a long run."
The Rangers began the day seventh in the Eastern Conference, three points behind Montreal and five ahead of ninth-place Buffalo, which is on the outside of the playoff race.
"I've been in a suitcase for many years now, so it shouldn't take that long," he said of getting familiar with his new team. "There are a couple of different things they do here, but it shouldn't be a problem."
For now, his job is to provide an experienced presence to a very young defence corps and quarterback a power play that has been needing some punch from the blue line.
"I have a lot of roots here," said McCabe, who was the Panthers' captain before being traded. "My wife was born and raised here, so it's pretty much home. Three years ago when I was on my way out of Toronto, this was one of the teams I really wanted to come to.
"Things didn't work out, but I'm glad they did now. I'm really excited to be here."
And the Rangers are happy to have him. With all their interest in McCabe, they were determined not to give up any of their coveted young players for someone who might be elsewhere as soon as this summer.
New York might not be done dealing, either, before Monday's NHL trade deadline. The Rangers have long been interested in Dallas Stars centre Brad Richards, who is also eligible for unrestricted free agency.
The Rangers were already in the market for a veteran defenceman before Marc Staal twisted a knee at Carolina on Tuesday that forced him to miss his second straight game Sunday.
McCabe turned out to be the right fit.
"He's a veteran guy with a big shot on the power play," Rangers coach John Tortorella said. "I think it helps us."