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Kings Get Crossman, Send Wells to Flyers in Swap of Defensemen

September 30, 1988|GORDON EDES | Times Staff Writer

The Kings, in what may not be their last trade before the start of the regular season, traded defensemen with the Philadelphia Flyers Thursday, sending Jay Wells, a longtime King, to Philadelphia for Doug Crossman, who played in the 1987 Canada Cup.

"No, it's not what I had hoped for--it's what I had feared," said Wells, a No. 1 draft choice in 1979 and the team's all-time leader in games played by a defenseman, 604.

"The outlook for this team looked so promising, so to be traded is kind of a heart-breaker."

From the time he reported to training camp and informed the Kings that he was playing out his option, Wells--who acts as his own agent--had suspected that he was headed elsewhere.

"I don't feel negotiating had anything to do with it," Wells said. "I went in to find out what they thought about me. They gave me their answer today."

Although Wells had worried about a trade, Crossman--a 6-foot 2-inch, 190-pounder who played on two Stanley Cup finalists in Philadelphia--not only welcomed a deal, he had insisted upon one by refusing to report to the Flyers' training camp.

Crossman had been stung by harsh public criticism by then-coach Mike Keenan--who questioned his heart and effort--and even though Keenan has been replaced by Paul Holmgren, Crossman made it clear that he had no intention of playing again for the Flyers.

"It was a tough year for the Flyers in general. We were taking a lot of heat," said Crossman, 28, who was the target of hometown booing one season after he led Flyer defensemen in scoring in the '87 Stanley Cup finals against Edmonton.

"Things happened that I think everybody regrets. What happened to me happens to a couple of guys every year--Brad McCrimmon, Bob Froese--and sooner or later, they get around to you. It's part of the game, and I just chalk it up to experience."

Crossman, who has been skating on his own at home in London, Ontario, said he plans to fly to Los Angeles today for a physical. He wasn't sure how soon he'll be ready to play.

"It's going to take a little while to get back into the bumping and grinding," he said.

Crossman will be the sixth player on the Kings' roster to have played in a Stanley Cup finals. The five others are Wayne Gretzky, Mike Krushelnyski and Marty McSorley with the Edmonton Oilers, and Rollie Melanson and John Tonelli with the New York Islanders.

"He's a different type player than Jay Wells," said Rogie Vachon, King general manager. "Jay is physical, Doug plays with more finesse. He's like a (Steve) Duchesne. He moves the puck real well out of his zone.

"But he's also a very good defenseman, very sound defensively. He's not going to overpower anybody, but he's smart and has a lot of experience. He's also great on the power play.

"It got to the point where we didn't think Jay would be happy playing out his option. Jay talked to me yesterday, and reading between the lines, I felt that we either had to negotiate a contract and make him happy or there was the possibility . . . he would walk out of camp or ask for a trade.

"Plus, we had a chance to get another defenseman, which we need."

Vachon also said that the Kings had not offered a contract to free-agent goalie Doug Keans before submitting their list of protected players for Monday's National Hockey League waiver draft. The Kings could still sign Keans, but then they would have to put him on waivers without the right of recall, should another team claim him.

There are reports that the Kings and the Minnesota North Stars are still talking about right wing Dean Ciccarelli, a North Star holdout, but Vachon said the sides remain far apart. The North Stars are asking too much, Vachon said.

"I don't see anything changing overnight, unless they make a big change," he said.

As for the goaltending situation, Vachon said the team won't decide whether to make a move until after this weekend's three exhibition games.

"Melanson has looked really sharp in training camp," Vachon said. "We still have (Glenn) Healy. The jury's out on him, but we won't make a decision until after the weekend."

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