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McSween's Return Is Successful

Hockey: Defenseman, having recovered from a serious cut on the forearm, plays well in the Ducks' 2-1 loss to Maple Leafs.


ANAHEIM — On another night, Don McSween's return to the NHL might have ranked as front-page news--in the Hockey News and maybe the New England Journal of Medicine too.

But the Mighty Ducks acquired talented goal-scorer Teemu Selanne from Winnipeg in the biggest deal in their three-year history.

Anything else, including McSween's return and the Ducks' 2-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs before 17,174 at the Pond, was doomed to secondary status Wednesday.

Last month, McSween, a defenseman, wondered whether his career was history. His recovery from a gruesome cut to his right forearm that occurred during a game at Winnipeg, Jan. 21, 1995, was as complete as doctors could have hoped, considering he required surgery to repair nine tendons and two nerves.

His on-ice progress was another story. McSween had trouble handling the puck properly and his slap shot lost a few miles per hour.

After a brief stint with the Baltimore Bandits of the AHL last month, McSween was placed on injured reserve. Wednesday, the Ducks activated him and Coach Ron Wilson put him into the starting lineup.

Wilson paired McSween with feisty Dave Karpa and the two fared well enough. McSween moved the puck to open teammates and was properly stationed defensively.

"Personally, I thought it went pretty well," McSween said. "It would have been great if we had won and I had a goal. I'm just happy to be back. Hopefully, I can be a contributor night in and night out.

"I was pretty excited. I was trying to keep my distance. I didn't want people to see me smiling too much. It was a nervous smile too."

Said Wilson: "I don't think anyone can imagine what Don McSween has gone through. I'm proud of his effort. He might have been our most effective defenseman."

The Toronto game proved to be the perfect chance for Wilson to test McSween. With defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky, along with winger Chad Kilger, off to Winnipeg in the trade, Wilson was short on defensemen. Plus, there was a keen sense that the Ducks' playoff run begins with Selanne's first game with the Ducks Saturday against the Islanders.

"I'm looking forward to Saturday with Teemu in there," Wilson said.

Wilson made another significant change, naming Paul Kariya and Bobby Dollas assistant captains. He spoke to each this week about adopting more vocal leadership roles.

With Bob Corkum gone to Philadelphia in a Tuesday trade and Todd Krygier in Wilson's doghouse, Kariya and Dollas were naturals. Krygier was a healthy scratch for the second consecutive game.

Kariya, playing his 100th NHL game, responded with his team-leading 29th goal, on a power play 5:50 into the game. Dave Andreychuk and Dave Gagner scored for the Maple Leafs, who ended an 0-7-2 streak.

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