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Duck Defenseman Seeks Some Relief : Hockey: McSween files unemployment claim that would pay maximum benefit of $230 a week for 26 weeks.


Mighty Duck defenseman Don McSween has filed an unemployment claim, becoming the first NHL player known to take advantage of California law that makes locked-out employees eligible for benefits.

McSween, whose claim is pending, was a career minor leaguer who earned $30,000-$50,000 a year before making about $100,000 with the Ducks last season. The team rewarded him with a contract that was to pay him $300,000 this season. If his claim is approved, McSween would be eligible for the maximum benefit of $230 a week for up to 26 weeks.

"It's not that much, but more or less it makes a statement. For a guy like me, any little bit helps," said McSween, 30, a married father of two who doesn't own a home and drives an Oldsmobile. "I've played mostly in the minors, almost entirely until last year. I really don't have a million dollars in the bank by any means."

Duck officials received notice of McSween's claim and verified the last day of his employment, stating the reason he is not working as an "owner's lockout," said Andy Roundtree, vice president for finance and administration.

"It doesn't bother me," Duck President Tony Tavares said. "I think he's well within his legal rights to do it. I guess some people might be annoyed with it. But we pay in based on our payroll. He's within his rights."

Union chief Bob Goodenow was unaware of McSween's filing, but said, "He's a career minor leaguer who has a family and trained all summer. Now, in the face of an owners' lockout, far be it for me to suggest what a player should do."

Goodenow also said there is an emergency fund available to players.

McSween won an NHL job while on a stint filling in for injured players in Anaheim last season. He played in 32 games and earned easily the most of his seven-year career.

"Say it goes all year, the worst-case scenario; it would hurt, and cancel most of whatever I saved last year," he said. "I'd obviously have to find work. But I've got an engineering degree and my wife has a teaching degree. It might be hard to get hired if you tell them if the season's ready to start, I've got to quit. But we live a simple life. We don't spend a lot. We have no reason to go out and buy new cars. Our cars are in good shape. We're not used to making a lot of money. It wouldn't hurt us that much. We'd do OK."


The Kings and Ducks announced ticket-refund and exchange policies for games that are postponed or canceled by the lockout, joining the San Jose Sharks as the first teams to issue policies.

Though no games have been officially canceled, the league is expected to announce some cancellations this week. A league spokesman also said the reconfigured schedule will not extend the playoffs beyond the end of June because of potential problems with maintaining adequate ice surfaces.

There are several options for fans who purchased individual game tickets for the Kings or Ducks--holding the tickets to see if games are rescheduled, exchanging the tickets for future home games this season at the point of purchase or receiving a refund for actual games missed. Returns and refunds are available only after the date of the scheduled game.

For King season ticket-holders or purchasers of mini-plans, there are three choices. For those who wish to maintain their priority position, the team will provide a 6% interest payment as incentive, including a guarantee that prices for their seats will be not be raised next season.

Or, instead of a refund, subscribers have the option of receiving "Kings Dollars" equal to 10% of the total value of their package, as games are canceled or missed. "Kings Dollars" can be redeemed for future King games, other Forum events or Forum concessions, or be used at any of the Slap Shop outlets.

The final choice is a refund for all canceled games in their season package. However, no refunds will be made until all of the games in the first segment--home games 1-10--are missed.

Duck season ticket-holders or mini-plan purchasers can receive a credit toward tickets for potential playoff games or season tickets or mini-plans for next season, and can also receive a discount of 5% of the amount credited toward the purchase of playoff tickets.

Those with ticket packages who want refunds may request reimbursement on a monthly basis as games are postponed or canceled.

Times staff writer Helene Elliott contributed to this story.

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