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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

Ducks Have Better Cause for Celebration at Present

March 12, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

There has been much said and written this week of the Kings' 30th anniversary, ofBruce McNall and Wayne Gretzky and Marcel Dionne. Nostalgia is good. But I'd rather celebrate a team for the hockey it is playing today.

The team of the present, even before its fourth anniversary, is the Ducks, with superstars Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne and a zoned-in goaltender, Guy Hebert.

I'm not sure any NHL team is playing better, not even Detroit. We'll see tonight, when the Red Wings come to the Pond unbeaten in their last 11 games (6-0-5). Unbeaten in their last eight games (5-0-3), the Ducks are acting like a team that won't be content just to make the playoffs for the first time.

Another race the Ducks are watching is for the league's scoring lead. Selanne is second with 90 points to 101 for Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux.

Selanne, however, insisted after practice Tuesday that he's not absorbed in it. The individual statistic he's most proud of is that he played more minutes than any other Duck in Sunday's 2-2 tie at Colorado.

Duck Coach Ron Wilson said that was part of a handshake deal he made with Selanne after the Ducks' last loss, an embarrassing one to the Kings three weeks ago at the Forum. Wilson promised Selanne more playing time--with the penalty-killing unit in particular--if "Teddy Flash," as he's known, would start applying more mash.

When a fight comes to Selanne, he won't back down. But, unlike Kariya, he has a reputation as a one-dimensional player who doesn't seek an opponent to check when the Ducks don't have the puck.

Wilson, however, has talked this Duck into no longer being an angel.

"You can shame Teemu into doing these sorts of things because his linemates are doing them," Wilson said. "He wants to be more than a goal scorer."

*

Byron Scott has been talking to his Laker teammates about staying positive. How bad, after all, can a couple of sprained knees be, even if they belong to Shaquille O'Neal and Robert Horry? . . .

Candace Scott, Byron's 30-year-old sister, was rushed to a hospital in Loma Linda on Friday with multiple aneurysms in her brain. The Scott family feared it would lose her, but she pulled through after seven hours of surgery and may go home before the end of the week. . . .

The new vice president for marketing and sales with Anaheim Sports Inc. is Ken Wachter, who comes to the Ducks and Angels from Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. . . .

Who needs real lions, tigers and elephants when you can have holographic ones? Nobody would have to sweep up after such a halftime show in the proposed downtown arena for the Kings and Lakers. . . .

According to the L.A. Business Journal, the arena might also have personal video screens for each fan and the push-button technology to order concessions from your seat. . . .

The Journal named King President Tim Leiweke one of L.A.'s up-and-comers. . . .

McNall also mentioned Leiweke on Tom Murray's Channel 9 special Monday night, saying the King exec invited him to attend the team's 30th anniversary bash scheduled for Thursday night. McNall had to decline. He began serving his 70-month prison sentence Monday. . . .

With those two world indoor 800-meter records last weekend, how long will it be before Wilson Kipketer, the great Dane by way of Kenya, breaks Sebastian Coe's outdoor record? The oldest track record in the book, it was set in 1981. . . .

Before Thursday night's concert for Classic Charities of Orange County, at UC Irvine's Bren Center, Willie Nelson will get in a round of golf in the Toshiba Senior Classic's pro-am. . . .

Most appreciated quote of the week: Jerry Seinfeld says, "I could read the sports section if my hair was on fire."

*

Pulpit is the favorite in the year's first big Kentucky Derby prep, the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, but coming up fast on the outside is Captain Bodgit.

Although the horse won his last five races as a 2-year-old, it was a third-place finish last month in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream that caught the eye.

Captain Bodgit broke awkwardly out of the gate and fell 21 1/2 lengths off the pace, but, with a staggering burst of speed in the third quarter, finished only two lengths behind winner Pulpit.

That performance more than justified the $500,000 Barry Irwin of Pasadena and Jeff Siegel of Arcadia had paid to become his owners a month before.

*

While wondering if Lawrence Phillips will get the message now, I was thinking: Roy Tarpley never has, the Ducks will beat the Red Wings, the Kings will win the Stanley Cup sometime in their second 30 years.

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