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MIGHTY DUCKS NOTEBOOK / ROBYN NORWOOD : Gretzky Ducks Kings' Exhibition in Anaheim

September 21, 1993|ROBYN NORWOOD

ANAHEIM — The Mighty Ducks' $25-million indemnity fee bought them a piece of the Kings' territory, but it won't buy them a say in the Kings' exhibition-game lineup.

Wayne Gretzky won't dress for the Kings' first meeting with the Ducks at 8 p.m. Wednesday at Anaheim Arena, even after the Ducks called the Kings and asked the team if he would.

Gretzky, like other NHL superstars, skips some of his team's exhibition games, and will play in only four of the Kings' scheduled eight. When Walt Disney Co. Chairman Michael Eisner--a regular at King games before Disney got its own team--heard that Gretzky wouldn't play, he asked Duck President Tony Tavares about it. Tavares called King President Roy Mlakar, who said the roster hadn't been decided, although Gretzky and Coach Barry Melrose already had told reporters which games he would play. A few days later, Tavares called again and got his answer: "The decision has been made."

Tavares said he was "disappointed."

"There's no rule in the NHL that everybody has to play in exhibition games," Tavares said. "I think we made an assumption that with the new rivalry, as long as everything was OK, he would play."

Don't count Duck Coach Ron Wilson among the miffed, though.

"Hey, Barry Melrose knows what Wayne Gretzky can do," Wilson said. "I can understand him not playing. It's early. There's no point in them wearing Wayne Gretzky out for our benefit. On the other hand, they know we play a physical game. It could be physical. If I had Wayne Gretzky on my side, I probably wouldn't play him either. This game doesn't count."

Besides, Gretzky's absence can't hurt the Duck box office much at this point. Only about 1,000 of the 17,174 tickets remain--partly because of an exhibition-season ad campaign promoting a chance to see Gretzky play.

Duck Notes

Kings who are on the game roster for Wednesday include defensemen Charlie Huddy and Alexei Zhitnik, left wing Tony Granato, centers Shawn McEachern and Jimmy Carson, right wing Tomas Sandstrom and goaltenders Kelly Hrudey and Rick Knickle. Left wing Luc Robitaille is out with a back injury. . . . The Duck roster probably will be trimmed to about 26 healthy players--three goalies, eight defensemen and 15 forwards--by the end of the weekend, after an exhibition scrimmage Saturday at the San Diego Sports Arena. The Ducks will play their minor league team, the San Diego Gulls, but Coach Ron Wilson said he will split his own squad to help even out sides with the Gulls, who are awaiting the assignment of about 10 more Duck players. . . . Center Bob Corkum is expected to return to practice today after missing several days with tendinitis in his right knee. Center Patrik Carnback did not practice after suffering a slight groin strain Sunday. Defenseman Anatoli Fedotov was ill.

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