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Trade to Rangers puts Klein on outdoor stage

by Tal Pinchevsky

NEW YORK -- Three days ago, Kevin Klein was packing his bags in anticipation of the Nashville Predators' four-game, seven-day road trip through Western Canada that started the following night against the Vancouver Canucks.

Then he got a phone call informing him he had been traded to the New York Rangers.

Three days later, after playing in the Rangers' 2-1 loss Thursday to the St. Louis Blues, Klein had his first full practice with the team, outdoors at Yankee Stadium.

In anticipation of two games in the Bronx as part of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, the 29-year-old defenseman was taking the sudden curveball in stride. It certainly wasn't how he saw his weekend shaping up.

"It's pretty amazing, from the facilities to the stadium. Oh man, it's a pretty cool experience," Klein said. "All of a sudden you're traded (for Michael Del Zotto) and I'm getting texts about an outdoor stadium game at Yankee Stadium. Back home I've got a few buddies that love the Yankees. They were all jacked up and texting me. It's the first time I got to visit the stadium."

Within a matter of three hours, Klein had to go from packing seven days' worth of clothing to three weeks' worth. After saying goodbye to his wife and two children, not to mention the friends and teammates he got to know through 10 years with the Nashville organization that drafted him in 2003, he was on a flight to New York.

And Yankee Stadium, of all places, was waiting, with games against the New Jersey Devils on Sunday (12:30 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC) and New York Islanders on Wednesday.

"It's quite an experience," Klein said. "From the media to the fans to the stadium, it's pretty cool."

The picturesque day at the ballpark was bittersweet for Klein. Practice was followed by a skate involving Rangers players, staff and family members, but Klein's wife and two children, ages 3 and 1, remain in Nashville. He would have loved to have them here, but in light of the mania surrounding the game, he decided it would be better to delay the family reunion.

"I talked to my wife; it would have been an unreal experience, but at the same time, with the kids there's just a lot going on right now," Klein said. "With the two young ones and the city being packed for the Super Bowl coming up, we decided to just wait. I think we'll wait until after the [Olympic] break. They'll come back and visit whenever we're home and then just stay in Nashville until the summer, just to make an easy transition for them, and I can focus on hockey."

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