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Betts signs contract extension

by Staff Writer / New York Rangers

New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has signed forward Blair Betts to a contract extension.

Betts, 26, has appeared in 41 games with the Rangers this season, registering five goals and one assist, along with 16 penalty minutes. He currently ranks first among all forwards in the NHL with 50 blocked shots and leads the Blueshirts with 315 faceoffs won.

Last season, Betts led the Rangers and ranked 19th among NHL centers with a 53.4 faceoff percentage. In 66 games with New York during the 2005-06 regular season, he recorded eight goals and two assists, along with 24 penalty minutes. His eight goals, 10 points and 24 penalty minutes were all career-highs. Betts also led the Rangers with two points (one goal and one assist) in four playoff games against the New Jersey Devils in the 2006 Eastern Conference Quarter-Finals.

The 6-3, 207-pounder has skated in a total of 142 career NHL contests with the Calgary Flames and New York Rangers, collecting 16 goals and eight assists for 24 points, along with 52 penalty minutes. Betts scored his first career NHL goal in his NHL regular season debut vs. Minnesota on April 4, 2002 (Manny Fernandez). He recorded his first professional assist on March 18, 2003 at Los Angeles.

In 177 career American Hockey League (AHL) games with the Saint John Flames and Hartford Wolf Pack from 2000-01 to 2004-05, Betts registered 44 goals and 55 assists for 99 points, along with 48 penalty minutes. In 2000-01, he captured a Calder Cup championship as a member of Calgary's top minor league affiliate, the Saint John Flames, posting two goals and three assists for five points in 19 post-season games.

Prior to joining the professional ranks, Betts spent four seasons in the Western Hockey League (WHL), registering 91 goals and 116 assists for 207 points in 215 games with the Prince George Cougars. He finished his junior career as Prince George's all-time scoring leader with 207 points.

Internationally, Betts was a member of Team Canada's entry in the 1999 World Junior Championships and the 2001 Spengler Cup, helping both teams capture the silver medal.

The native of Edmonton, Alberta was originally Calgary's second selection, 33rd overall, in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. The Rangers acquired Betts from Calgary on March 6, 2004 along with Jamie McLennan and Greg Moore, in exchange for Chris Simon and a 2004 seventh round draft choice (Matt Schneider).
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