Wayne Gretzky Has Agreed to a Contract Extension So He Can Finish His Career With the New York Rangers

The deal was announced today during a news conference at Madison Square Garden.

``We are thrilled to be fortunate enough to have the greatest player in the history of the National Hockey League as a member of the New York Rangers,'' team president and general manager Neil Smith said. ``Today's exciting announcement ensures that Rangers fans will continue to have the privilege of watching him perform on a regular basis for the rest of his career.''

The team didn't reveal any details about the contract. But the New York Post and Daily News reported that Gretzky's contract extension will keep him with the Rangers at least two more seasons. The News said he will earn about $6.5 million this season and $5 million in 1998-99.

If the 36-year-old Gretzky decides to continue playing after that, the Rangers would have the option of keeping him, both papers said.

Gretzky's original two-year contract with the Rangers was scheduled to expire after this season. He previously played for the Edmonton Oilers, Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues.

Entering his 19th NHL season, Gretzky has a record 862 goals, 1,843 assists and 2,705 points. The Rangers open their season Friday night against the New York Islanders.