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MIGHTY DUCK NOTEBOOK / ROBYN NORWOOD : NHL Takes Cue From Success of Ducks, Sharks Colors

January 22, 1994|ROBYN NORWOOD

NEW YORK — Alexei Kasatonov looked quite at home in his Western Conference jersey Friday after practicing for today's All-Star game at Madison Square Garden.

Why? It's purple--just like the Mighty Ducks' road jerseys.

With the Wales and Campbell Conferences relegated to the dustbin, the NHL redesigned its All-Star jerseys to reflect the league's new image. And the NHL apparently figured if teal and purple colors that fly off shelves and hangers on their way to the cash register--see the San Jose Sharks and Mighty Ducks--they're good enough for the All-Stars.

The Eastern Conference is wearing Shark-like teal and the Western is wearing purple.

Purple and teal All-Stars?

"Maybe we play like Mighty Ducks," laughed Kasatonov, who said he is proud to be representing the 18-27-4 Ducks.

It was an unanticipated honor for Kasatonov, who did not leave the former Soviet Union to play in the NHL until he was 31. Though he played in three Olympics, winning two gold medals and a silver and has been an all-star at the World Championships and the Canada Cup, the NHL All-Star game seemed beyond his reach until now.

"I'm proud to be here. It is for my family . . . history," Kasatonov said. "And I'm proud to be the first to play for the Mighty Ducks."

At 34, he is the third-oldest player in this All-Star game, behind the Kings' Dave Taylor, 38, and Pittsburgh's Joe Mullen, 36.

To the young Russian stars who are also playing today, he was a childhood hero, and briefly a teammate on the Central Red Army team.

"I used to watch him on TV when I was a small kid, 10 years old," said Vancouver's Pavel Bure, 22.

"He's a great hockey player," said Buffalo's Alexander Mogilny, 24. "He was a great player back in Russia. He put a lot of heart and soul into the Russian team. It's great to see a guy like him here."

Kasatonov is proud of his countrymen.

"It shows the true Russian school (of hockey) is really good school," said Kasatonov. "I remember Pavel when he was this big, like my son (Leonid, 10)."

*

Though this is Kasatonov's first All-Star game, he also was at the 1979 event at Madison Square Garden that replaced the NHL All-Star game that year.

Kasatonov, then 19, was a member of the Soviet team team that played a team of NHL all-stars in the Challenge Cup.

"I did not play--I was very young," Kasatonov said. "But we won series, 2-1, and won the last game, 6-0."

*

Semenov update: Anatoli Semenov, who was the team's leading scorer when he dislocated his elbow when he caught caught in a check by teammate Stu Grimson Dec. 7, is being called "probable" for Monday's game against St. Louis at Anaheim Arena.

If Semenov returns Monday, he will have missed 20 games--and the Ducks will have gone a surprising 9-9-2 without him. A final decision on whether he'll play will probably come after Sunday's practice--the only practice NHL rules allow over the All-Star break.

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