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Long Beach Gives Karpa Place to Play

Hockey: During his contract dispute with the Ducks, defenseman works out with Ice Dogs.

September 18, 1996|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

LAKEWOOD — Dave Karpa skated through practice with the Long Beach Ice Dogs Tuesday morning, then hopped on a stationary bike.

The question is whether all that pedaling will get him anywhere.

The Mighty Ducks have been in camp 10 days, and Karpa remains stuck in a contract dispute, working out informally with the Ice Dogs while such players as Nikolai Tsulygin, Adrien Plavsic, Ruslan Salei and Dan Trebil try to claim his spot with the Ducks.

"I guess I was prepared, knowing it could be a long battle," said Karpa, a defenseman who had 19 points last season but whose main role was antagonizing opponents, resulting in 270 penalty minutes.

Now the Ducks will see how Karpa's stubborn, emotional style applies to negotiating.

"Maybe they don't know me as well as they think they know me," Karpa said. "I just want to be paid what I think I'm worth. I was the lowest-paid player on the team last year. I made $160,000. The way I look at it, they got me for a bonus last year."

Shortly before camp opened, the Ducks offered Karpa a one-year deal worth $425,000. Karpa believes he's worth closer to $700,000, based on contracts signed by the Kings' Doug Zmolek and Ottawa's Sean Hill, a former Duck.

The Ducks haven't budged.

"It's in their court. It's his decision," General Manager Jack Ferreira said.

The Ducks hold all the cards. Karpa is a restricted free agent, meaning the team can retain him by matching any other NHL team's offer. Karpa's only other real option would be to play for an International Hockey League team.

"I'd like to be in the NHL," he said. "I think there's teams that would like to have me. But I don't know if [the Ducks] would let me go that easy right now.

"They could let me rot all year if they want to."

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