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Ducks Keep Campfires Burning

Hockey: Because of World Cup, team starts training today without coach and top players.

September 07, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

What's a Mighty Duck training camp that opens without Paul Kariya, Teemu Selanne, Guy Hebert, Jari Kurri or Coach Ron Wilson on the ice?

Training camp on training wheels?

How about, welcome to the American Hockey League?

The U.S. team's strong showing in the World Cup means Wilson will be in Ottawa preparing the American team for Sunday's semifinal game against Russia as Duck players report to Anaheim for physicals today.

Should the U.S. win, Wilson and Hebert--the backup goalie for the Americans--could miss a full week of camp because of the three-game championship series, which could run through Sept. 14.

The other Duck players competing in the World Cup--Selanne and Kurri for Finland, goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov for Russia--will all get at least five days off after their teams finish.

Those absences are of little concern to General Manager Jack Ferreira, since the players will be in peak condition when they arrive. Assistant coaches Walt Kyle and Tim Army will handle the team until Wilson gets there--perhaps as soon as Monday, perhaps just in time for the exhibition opener against the Kings Sept. 15 at the Pond.

All that is insignificant compared to the concern about Kariya, who is cautiously rehabilitating the inflamed abdominal muscle that led him to withdraw from the World Cup, where he would have played for Canada.

Kariya--who became the Ducks' first 50-goal scorer last season--might miss the entire exhibition season, and considers it "iffy" whether he'll be ready for the first game of the season.

"We've got to make sure he's 100%," Ferreira said. "He can miss the first week [of the season]. We're not going to chance it."

The condition, technically known as osteitis pubis, is an inflammation of the muscles attached to his pubic bone that is more common in soccer players. The injury apparently happened when he began to favor one foot late last season after blocking a shot with the other, and was exacerbated by his off-season workouts.

Although Kariya reported substantial improvement after resting the inflamed area and has been in Anaheim rehabilitating under the team's supervision for the last week, the approach is cautious. Push this sort of injury too soon, doctors have told Kariya, and he could be "back to square one."

"If all goes really well, I hope to be ready to start the season," Kariya said.

Ferreira did less than anticipated this summer to add a supporting cast, signing Kurri, a still-skillful future Hall of Famer nearing the end of his career at 36.

The Ducks lost free agent Todd Ewen, a tough guy, to San Jose, and will try to replace him with former King Warren Rychel, who played for Colorado last season. The team also chose not to re-sign captain Randy Ladouceur, 35, now a Hartford assistant coach.

Mighty Duck Notes

Right wing Roman Oksiuta, defenseman David Karpa and center J.F. Jomphe--all restricted free agents--had not reached contract agreements as of Friday evening and General Manager Jack Ferreira has retracted their invitations to camp. Oksiuta, 26, was the third-leading scorer on the Anaheim roster last season with 23 goals and 51 points. Among those who weren't re-signed are Anatoli Semenov, who centered Kariya and Selanne late last season and is now with Buffalo, and right wing Peter Douris, who had been a dependable grinder.

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