Goodbye New York

Rangers' Martin Straka announced to return to his Czech hometown club HC Plzen

26.06.2008
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Martin Straka said goodbye to Plzen after the lock-out season 2004-2005, now he's returning after three years. Photo: hcplzen.cz/Jaromir Pech

PLZEN, Czech Republic - HC Plzen has one of its top players back as 36-year-old Czech national team centre Martin Straka has been announced to return from the New York Rangers.

Straka will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st after his final year with the New York Rangers and an annual salary of $3.3m. However, he's not expected to be part of the free agent market after he's been announced to sign with his native club HC Plzen. The club's president Tomas Kral confirmed in a fan Q&A with deniksport.cz that Straka will return to HC Plzen as of July 1st. The information was confirmed later on the official website of the club.

Straka played in the NHL since 1992 except for stints with Plzen during the lock-outs in 1994-1995 and 2004-2005. Last season with the Rangers he collected 41 points (14+27) in 67 games.

The 35-year-old played 1060 NHL games scoring 283 goals and adding 504 assists, spending a good portion of his career with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He also won gold at the 1998 Olympics in Nagano and at the 2005 IIHF World Championship in Vienna.

"Martin will assume a greater role within the club," said Tomas Kral. "He will be a player but also be involved in club operations."

Plzen coach Milan Razym is looking forward the addition and is already thinking about the line-up, "My first thought was that I will try to play Straka on the same line as Tomas Vlasak and Peter Fabus."

While Plzen is celebrating Straka's return, his agent denied the information, saying that nothing is signed yet and it's completely open where Straka will play next season.

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