<
>

Reichel heads home to Czech Republic

Toronto Maple Leafs: -- Czech captain and Toronto Maple Leafs center Robert Reichel has returned home to play for Chemopetrol Litvinov, the Czech club said on Thursday.

"Toronto did not exercise an option in the contract and I
would like to allow my son to grow up here [in the Czech
Republic]," Reichel said on Litvinov's Web site.

Reichel, who won a gold medal at the 1998 Nagano Winter
Olympics, scored 252 goals and had 378 assists during his 13
years in the National Hockey League.

The 33-year-old previously played for Litvinov for two
seasons between 1999 and 2001.

Reichel is a member of the Czech team for the World Cup
which starts later this month.

New Jersey Devils: The club re-signed
forward Sergei Brylin to a multiyear contract.

The 30-year-old Brylin, who played in a career-best 82 games
last season, is entering his 11th year in the NHL. He had 14 goals
and 19 assists last year.

In 519 career games with the Devils, Brylin has 92 goals and 123
assists.

Vancouver Canucks: The club re-signed defenseman Nolan Baumgartner, and added right
wing Jeff Heerema and defenseman Joe DiPenta.

All three unrestricted free agents have spent most of their
careers in the minors. No contract terms were released.

Baumgartner, 28, is a former first-round draft pick who split
most of the last two seasons between Vancouver and their American
Hockey League affiliate, the Manitoba Moose. He recorded three
assists in nine games with the Canucks last season.

Heerema, 24, scored 12 goals and added 15 assists in 41 games
with the AHL's Hartford Wolfpack last season. He was drafted 11th
overall by the Carolina Hurricanes in the 1998 NHL Entry Draft and
has played 32 career NHL games with Carolina and St. Louis.

DiPenta, 25, played 73 games for the AHL's Chicago Wolves last
season. His NHL experience consists of three games for Atlanta in
2002-03.

Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.