While it hasn’t even been two years, defenseman Kevin Klein said it feels like a long time ago since the Jan. 22, 2014 trade that sent him to New York from Nashville.
“It seems a very long time ago,” Klein told reporters Monday morning, hours before taking on his former team, the Predators at Madison Square Garden. “A lot of things have happened. I’ve played a lot of games with [the Rangers]. It’s two deep playoff runs. It’s been really exciting.”
Klein said the games against Nashville are special in that he gets to play against former teammates and friends, but that two points is all that matters despite any pregame pleasantries.
“You want to beat them. You want to beat them every time you play them,” Klein said. “It’s just fun. It’s the camaraderie of the League. Every team has guys you played against or played with on it. It’s fun.”
Klein played parts of nine seasons with the Predators, becoming a full-time D-man in 2008-09. When he left the Music City, he had amassed 16 goals and 66 assists for 82 points in 403 games, which is fifth-most in franchise history among defensemen.
Klein has had success in New York, especially offensively. The 30-year-old has 13 goals and 37 points in 115 games. Klein is also a plus-40 with the Rangers; he was a minus-27 in Nashville.
“You’re disappointed when [the trade] first happens,” Klein said. “You don’t know what to expect going forward. A lot of good has come from that and I’m thankful for that.”
Head coach Alain Vigneault said he knew what type of player Klein was from his days in Vancouver, so he had an idea of what was coming back in return for defenseman Michael Del Zotto.
“He was in my book a real effective player for [Nashville],” Vigneault said. “He was playing in their top-four, playing against one of my top lines. He was a good stay at home type defenseman.
“It’s worked well for us,” Vigneault added.
Now approaching two years in the Big Apple, Klein said he’s happy to be a Ranger and call New York home.
“It’s a thing of the past,” Klein said of the deal. “You’ve got friends over there still. I’ve got a lot of friends and met a lot of new people here. It’s been amazing. You become a Ranger when you put on that uniform, and you feel like a Ranger. It’s been amazing.”