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This Time, Ducks Squawk in Private

January 09, 1998|ELLIOTT TEAFORD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The slumping Mighty Ducks held a players-only meeting Thursday, a day after defenseman Bobby Dollas and winger Warren Rychel sounded off about being scratched for the second time in three games.

"It was a private meeting," captain Paul Kariya said. "I think it's a natural thing [to be upset about being benched]. Let's not fly off the handle. Guys are mad because they're not playing. That's natural. If you're not unhappy about not playing, then you need your heart checked."

Added goaltender Guy Hebert: "It's always important for guys to know if everyone's on the same page or not. We've been playing better, and we want to keep playing better."

Coach Pierre Page referred all questions to the players after putting the team through an hourlong practice at Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim. But team President Tony Tavares, who met with Dollas and Rychel to clear the air, spoke about the players' comments and the state of the Ducks.

"I'd be disappointed in a professional athlete if he didn't want to play in every game," Tavares said. "[But] I disagreed with the forum. I saw no benefit to it at all."

Tavares said he was unaware of any attempt to trade either player. Dollas' agent reportedly has asked for a deal to be made.

Tavares said efforts to bolster the Ducks, 3-11-3 in the last 17 games, through trades are ongoing.

"I wish we were in a position to pull off a trade that would help this team," he said. "We're not going to trade a fourth-line player for a fourth-line player. The right kind of trade? Yeah, we'd make it. But not a trade just to make a trade.

"Our problem, as an organization, is we're running out of time. This has to get turned around soon."

Kariya said he's encouraged by the Ducks' recent play but is unhappy about the results.

"We're playing good hockey," Kariya said. "We've tightened up defensively. We've got a good system going. The biggest thing is to get our confidence back. If we were getting blown out, if we were not in games, then there's a problem and we'd have to fix it."

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