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MIGHTY DUCK NOTEBOOK / ROBYN NORWOOD : New Entertainment; Same Players

October 28, 1995|Robyn Norwood

ST. LOUIS — The Calgary Flames come to The Pond on Sunday, but don't say the word flame too often around Tony Tavares, who was still smoldering this week over the Wild Wing/Wall of Fire debacle.

"We're going to make some changes to some things due to the snafus and other things that happened," said Tavares, president of Disney Sports Enterprises. "I am not pleased, you can imagine."

Imagine this: Wild Wing's little trip into the fire on opening night was the least of it. The real gaffe came the next game when Wild Wing was supposed to return to successfully leap the wall of fire. He made the leap, but there was no flame.

The Ducks' vaunted entertainment operation literally ran out of gas.

The propane tank was empty.

This week, Tavares put Disneyland Entertainment back in charge of much of the game entertainment, replacing consultant Cheryl Benson, who works for an outside company that had been coordinating the entertainment.

"I don't like mistakes anywhere and I don't react well," Tavares said. "There's no deep dark secret. They blew it. It was lack of preparation.

"But from my perspective, this is ancillary stuff. Our primary business is the team we put on the ice.

"If you ask me to cut through it, if we were 6-2 instead of 2-6, would this matter? Not as much as it does to me right now."

They come home 2-8-0.

*

All this wouldn't be such a big deal if Disney hadn't emphasized entertainment other than the hockey game from the start. That entertainment is still evolving in the team's third season.

"The issue is not the concept. The concept was good," Tavares said. "It's an issue of execution."

That's where Disney comes in, after being pushed aside after the first season when Disney's unfamiliarity with sports led to interference with the game and too much ice damage.

"If you expect me to go to 'A Small World' concept, that's now what we're going to do," Tavares said. "But from an execution standpoint, do I like the way Disney entertainment does things? Yes. You don't get these kinds of mistakes."

Not that the ice-dancing Decoys will be back.

"If you recall, they weren't highly choreographed," Tavares said. "Nothing against the Decoys, but if you don't have time to rehearse to death, you never reach the level of Disney on Ice."

Mickey Mouse isn't coming either, and Tavares said more of the Cirque du Soleil and other circus-type acts are planned.

Mistakes like the recent ones apparently won't be tolerated, especially after Wild Wing became blooper material across North America, and got a separate story in the New York Times.

"It was on national TV," Tavares said. "An easy target, if you will--a flame and a Duck together."

*

One of the bigger surprises on the NHL All-Star game ballot is the inclusion of the Ducks' Oleg Tverdovsky among the 18 Western Conference defensemen. Tverdovsky has tremendous potential but he's probably several years from All-Star game caliber.

Left wing Paul Kariya and goaltender Guy Hebert are the other Ducks listed.

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