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Rangers acquire Jokinen from Flames

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) — The New York Rangers acquired forwards Olli Jokinen and Brandon Prust from the Calgary Flames for forwards Christopher Higgins and Ales Kotalik late Monday night.

The trade was announced by both teams shortly after the Flames were beaten 3-0 by the visiting Philadelphia Flyers.

"You've got to play hard every time you go on the ice, no matter what kind of distractions you have going on," Jokinen said. "You play for that sweater — the logo on the front of you — so long as they haven't told you you're not part of the team."

Jokinen, who along with Prust was in the Calgary lineup against Philadelphia, has 11 goals and 24 assists in 56 games this season.

"Definitely, it's a slap in the face to get traded," Jokinen said as he left Pengrowth Saddledome. "It was a long day. We heard everything (Sunday) night, I was kind of surprised. I wasn't expecting to get moved, but it's part of the business and I've got to move on."

Prust posted one goal and four assists in 43 games with the Flames. He is second in the NHL with 18 fighting majors.

The move helps the Rangers unload two players who failed to live up to expectations in their first season with New York.

It was the second big trade completed by the Flames in two days. Calgary sent star defenseman Dion Phaneuf, forward Fredrik Sjostrom and minor league defenseman Keith Aulie to the Toronto Maple Leafs for defenseman Ian White and forwards Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman and Jamal Mayers on Sunday.

The 31-year-old Jokinen, a Finnish Olympian, was acquired by Calgary from the Phoenix Coyotes at last year's trade deadline. He is now a likely candidate to center New York's top line that features leading scorer Marian Gaborik.

The trade became a strong rumor on Sunday night.

"My phone was going off the hook last night, just waiting to hear confirmation and pacing around for hours. I guess I didn't sleep too well," Prust said. "Then you come out here and you have to get focused and get ready to help your team get two points.

"We're professionals and you've got to go about business a certain way. It was definitely a different way, but it's done now."

Jokinen is earning $5.25 million this season in the final year of his contract. He scored eight goals in his first six games with the Flames last season and then was held off the scoresheet in the final 13 contests.

"Eleven months ago, when I got traded here I was pretty excited," said Jokinen, who has 248 goals and 305 assists in 854 NHL games with Los Angeles, Florida, Phoenix, Calgary and the New York Islanders. "I enjoyed my time here, and I was hoping I could stay here for the rest of my career.

"Like I say, it's a cruel business, but that's the way it goes. It comes with the salary. You make five million dollars, 11 goals is not going to cut it."

Kotalik scored eight goals and set up 14 others in 45 games with the Rangers, but he was a healthy scratch for eight of the previous nine games. Kotalik, a minus-18 with New York, has two years at $3 million per season left after this season.

He was sent back to New York on Sunday during the Rangers' three-game Western swing after being told a trade was imminent. The Rangers will conclude their trip Tuesday at Los Angeles.

Jokinen and Higgins can both become unrestricted free agents after this season, and Prust is eligible to be a restricted free agent.

"It's sad to leave. I'm leaving all of my buddies here," Prust said. "It's become my home, but at the same time I'm moving forward, and looking forward to it.

"Calgary's become my home, and I'll always respect the city and the organization. They gave me an opportunity and this is just the business side of the game. This is the ugly side I guess you could say."

Higgins had only six goals and eight assists in 55 games with New York. The Long Island native was the main player acquired by the Rangers in the deal that sent Scott Gomez to Montreal last June.