- Matt Ehalt, ESPN New York contributor
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NEW YORK -- As he was getting ready to be traded from the Toronto Maple Leafs three years ago, veteran defenseman Bryan McCabe had the New York Rangers as one of the teams he hoped to land with. Instead, McCabe ended up being shipped to Florida.
Saturday, McCabe finally found his way to Broadway, being traded to the Rangers as a move to help provide veteran leadership to New York's young defensive core.
"Things didn't work out [back then] but I'm glad they did now," McCabe said. "I'm really excited to be here."
McCabe played his first game as a Ranger Sunday at Madison Square Garden against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
McCabe, a 15-year-veteran who has joined his sixth team, was traded for forward Tim Kennedy and a third-round pick in the upcoming draft.
"I'm just here to play it out, have fun, hopefully make a run in the playoffs and chase a Cup," said McCabe about his future with the team as his contract expires at the end of the season. "I'm getting down to the dog years here so hopefully it's a long run."
McCabe initially started his career in New York with the Islanders after being drafted by the squad in the 1993 draft. He played with the Islanders for several seasons before getting traded for the first time in his career. Despite his short stint in New York, the 35-year-old said New York is like home for him because his family vacations in Long Island and his wife Roberta was born and raised there.
With the trade deadline Monday, McCabe said it had been made clear to him by the Panthers that he was not in their plans for next season. He had told them he was willing to stay to help the team grow, as he's in the final year of a five-year, $28.75 million contract, but the organization wanted to head in another direction and the team was able to work out a trade with the Rangers.
The defenseman likes what he's seen of the Rangers from afar.
"They're a great young team, obviously have a great goaltender, what else can you say?" McCabe said. "They work very hard and obviously Torts [coach John Tortorella] is a demanding coach and expects a lot out of them and it's a good thing."
With the Panthers, who are currently in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, McCabe had scored five goals and added 17 assists in 48 games. He will join a Rangers squad currently in seventh place in the Eastern Conference and hopes to help the team with his veteran presence and also on the power play.
Tortorella said McCabe will be paired with Steve Eminger on defense Sunday against the Lightning.
"To get a guy that helps us now with the injury to Marc [Staal] and going down the stretch to bring a veteran guy to help us a little bit," Tortorella said. "We think it is a good deal."
Matt Ehalt is a regular contributor to ESPNNewYork.com.
Bryan McCabe is excited to finally be able to play for the Rangers.