Defenseman Sandis Ozoliņš has been acquired by the Anaheim, Calif.-based Mighty Ducks team of the National Hockey League. Ozoliņš previously played for the Florida Panthers.
Ozoliņš, a native of Rīga, is a four-time NHL All-Star player and has been in 712 regular season games in his NHL career, according to a Mighty Ducks press release. Ozoliņš, 30, was traded to the Florida team by the Carolina Hurricanes, which had acquired him from Colorado. He began his NHL career when he was drafted in 1991 by the San Jose Sharks.
Ozoliņš also played in one game on the Latvian national team in the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City.
In addition to Ozoliņš, Anaheim got left wing and defenseman Lance Ward from the Panthers. In exchange, Anaheim gave the Panthers center Matt Cullen, defenseman Pavel Trnka and a fourth-round selection in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the press release said.
Ozoliņš is one of more than dozen players from Latvia or of Latvian heritage who are active in the NHL or minor league hockey. For example, his former teammate, goalie Arturs Irbe, plays for the Carolina Hurricanes.
Latvian-American Aris Brimanis, a native of Cleveland, Ohio, is a defenseman for the Worcester (Mass.) IceCats of the American Hockey League. Brimanis, 30, has over the years also played in the NHL, most recently for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, and late last year signed with the St. Louis Blues as a free agent.
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