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Corkum Traded to Flyers for Prospect, Draft Pick

February 07, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

ANAHEIM — The Mighty Ducks essentially owned up to a mistake Tuesday when they traded center Bob Corkum to Philadelphia for prospect Chris Herperger and a seventh-round draft pick in 1997.

Corkum, 28, was one of the players the Ducks decided were "keepers" from the 1993 expansion draft after he led the Ducks with 23 goals in their first season. Management thought, if anything, he'd play better.

But Corkum scored only 10 goals in the lockout-shortened season last year and had only five this season, and the Ducks moved him to help make room in the lineup for J.F. Jomphe and Jim Campbell--two players whose NHL experience consists of one game each.

Corkum was one of three regulars, along with Todd Krygier and Mike Sillinger, who were scratched from the lineup in Sunday's loss to Chicago. Players were waiting for the other shoe to drop, and Tuesday it did.

"I think this more than anything is a shaker-upper," said Corkum, who was an assistant captain and the Ducks' representative to the players' union. "It gets people thinking about their jobs, gets everyone to dig down."

Said General Manager Jack Ferreira: "We just thought some of the younger guys were ready and we brought them up and had to make room. I think Bob will play better. It was time for a change for both sides."

The trade freed the Ducks of the two years remaining on the three-year, $1.5-million contract they gave Corkum last summer, but it didn't do anything to improve a team that is 11th in the Western Conference, five points out of the conference's final playoff spot. Herperger, 21, is reporting to minor league Baltimore and isn't expected to play in the NHL this season.

"I don't think this diminishes our chances," Ferreira said. "In no way is this a sign we are going in a different direction. We're still striving for the playoffs."

Corkum's 82 points still rank second behind Paul Kariya on the Ducks' all-time scoring list. But his production had plummeted and he was frustrated at being expected to score despite playing a more defensive role this season, centering a checking line and rarely playing on the power play.

"Things were getting a little stale here for whatever reason, and I think the change of atmosphere will be good for my career," he said. "Going to a Stanley Cup contender makes it even better."

He is expected to play on Philadelphia's third line with Joel Otto and Shjon Podein, and as he put it, with the firepower the Flyers have, they won't need him to score.

"My ice time went down in Anaheim and my role changed. That's all fine with me, because I'm basically a defensive centerman," Corkum said. "I felt I didn't get an opportunity to play with other offensive players. As valuable as Todd Ewen is to our team, I was playing with him night in and night out, and he's not an offensive player. They can complain about points, but I was cast as a defensive center. The whole thing is not on their shoulders, though."

As for whether the Ducks overestimated Corkum's ability or he failed to live up to it, Ferreira said, "I don't know what it was. Probably a combination."

Wilson agreed.

"You look back in hindsight and wonder if his first year might be an aberration offensively," he said. "He's always done a good job in the defensive zone but on this team that's just not enough."

Duck Notes

Coach Ron Wilson named defenseman Bobby Dollas an assistant captain, replacing Bob Corkum. "He can be outspoken and say the wrong things, but he wants to win in the worst way and I respect that," Wilson said. Wilson also has asked Paul Kariya to become a more vocal leader. "It's nice that the coaching staff wants me to do that," Kariya said. "I'm still not going to rant and rave every night, but I've gradually been trying to lead more. I don't think you need to wear a letter to be a leader." . . . Todd Krygier, one of the regulars who was scratched Sunday, met with the coaching staff Tuesday for 20 minutes as practice started without them and said they were discussing his recent play. . . . Chris Herperger, the prospect acquired from Philadelphia, broke his neck at 16 in a 1990 hockey incident, but recovered completely. He is well known to the Ducks because he played for Baltimore Coach Walt Kyle when Kyle coached Seattle in the Western Hockey League. Herperger has eight goals and 20 points this season in limited playing time with Hershey in the American Hockey League. "He's a guy who improved every single year," Kyle said. "In my opinion, he's a National Hockey League prospect and he'll fit in here right away."

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