The Ducks and Calgary Flames had differing opinions on Paul Kariya's five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing Ed Ward on Wednesday. But it's clear the Ducks must do more to protect Kariya from physical abuse.
Kariya, who signed a two-year, $14-million contract Dec. 11, and linemate Teemu Selanne have been targeted often this season.
Opponents figure the Ducks won't retaliate and their weak power play won't hurt them either.
And Sunday, the Ducks will face Chicago Blackhawk defenseman Chris Chelios, who has developed a passion for mugging Kariya. He took the rough stuff to another level in the Blackhawks' 2-0 victory Dec. 30, punching, spearing, high-sticking and slashing Kariya.
At one point, he could be seen on TV telling Kariya from the bench, "I'll get you, Paul." Kariya gave as good as he got, but fending off Chelios seemed to be up to him. No one else took up the fight on his behalf or slammed Chicago standout Tony Amonte against the boards.
It was the same situation late in the Ducks' 5-2 loss Wednesday to Calgary. Ward grabbed Kariya's stick at center ice midway through the third period, and the rest depends on your interpretation of events.
"I asked Paul what happened and he said the guy had ahold of his stick and he was just trying to jam it free," Coach Pierre Page said. "The guy hit the ice and faked it. Why would you spear Ed Ward?"
Said Duck defenseman Ruslan Salei, "[Kariya] did that because he had to do something. Guys chased him all night."
Said Ward, who was not injured, "Obviously, it wasn't the most painful thing, but regardless, you don't do that sort of thing. He's not a dirty player, but we did a good job of frustrating him."
The Ducks did not practice Thursday, but the coaching and management staffs met for most of the day. They are believed to be pursuing a trade that will bring a standout center, a physical defenseman and an enforcer to the Ducks.
The Vancouver Canucks are shopping center Trevor Linden, defenseman Jyrki Lumme and Alexander Mogilny, who certainly would be welcome additions in Anaheim. They have fallen out of favor with Vancouver Coach Mike Keenan.
There reportedly have been trade talks between the Canucks and New York Islanders as well, although a deal is not imminent.