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Mighty Ducks Make Hay an Assistant While Page Waits

July 18, 1997|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Mighty Ducks finally got their man Thursday.

No, they didn't settle compensation issues with the Calgary Flames and hire Pierre Page as coach. But they did hire former Phoenix Coyote coach Don Hay as an assistant.

Hay, 43, will direct training camp and coach exhibition games in September if the Ducks wait until Page becomes a free agent Oct. 1.

Hay, who signed a three-year contract, was Page's assistant in Calgary in 1995-96 and also coached against and became friends with Duck assistant Walt Kyle in the junior-level Western Hockey League in the early 1990s.

"Hopefully, we'll get Pierre on board before training camp," Hay said from his home in Kamloops, Canada. "I'm looking forward to fitting into the mix."

Hay appeared to be the Ducks' top candidate to replace Ron Wilson as head coach early in their search but fell from contention after Page resigned June 18 in Calgary.

Last season under Hay, the Coyotes were 38-37-7 and finished third in the Central Division.

Meanwhile, Page has received legal advice from a Calgary lawyer who has had dealings with Calgary's ownership group and believes he can act as a go-between. Page hopes he will not be forced to file a lawsuit against the Flames.

When Page resigned with one season left on a three-year contract, the Flames insisted they be given compensation if he signed to coach another Pacific Division team. Their agreement ends Oct. 1.

Page has called the Flames "immoral" for insisting on compensation.

Hay had a similar experience with the Flames last summer when he sought to leave Calgary to become the Coyotes' coach. Calgary received a third-round draft pick from the Coyotes for Hay, whose hiring was delayed until after the June draft.

"I haven't talked to Pierre, but you have to let the two teams settle it," Hay said. "I went through it. It's a long process, a difficult process for the person in the middle of it."

Among Hay's top priorities will be developing the Ducks' young prospects. He coached Kamloops for three seasons and guided Team Canada to the 1995 World Junior championship.

"I think between Don and Walt Kyle, we'll have two guys spending a lot of time with our young guys, and that's something we've lacked in the past," Duck General Manager Jack Ferreira said.

With the exception of all-star left wing Paul Kariya, few of the Ducks' top draft picks have been consistent contributors. It's believed to be among the reasons Wilson's contract was not renewed after four seasons.

"I feel one of my strengths is developing young players," Hay said. "The message I get from Jack is that they want to develop the young players from within the organization.

"I think I can help do that."

Hay's moves during the Duck-Coyote Western Conference quarterfinal playoff series in April, including using Jeremy Roenick to shadow Kariya, impressed Ferreira.

"It was just a great series," Ferreira said. "It was a great chess match. I didn't think of [hiring] him because I didn't think he would be leaving Phoenix. Once the Coyotes released him, yeah, I immediately thought of him."

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