Duck defenseman Fredrik Olausson missed most of training camp while team medical personnel searched for a reason as to why his spleen was enlarged.
When Olausson was cleared to play (doctors never came up with an explanation for his condition), he played sluggishly to start the season and earned a spot in Coach Craig Hartsburg's doghouse.
But his game began to change about the time Hartsburg paired him with Ruslan Salei and formed a steady five-man unit with forwards Paul Kariya, Steve Rucchin (now Matt Cullen) and Teemu Selanne.
As a result, Olausson had 12 goals and 16 assists in his last 25 games going into Friday.
"It wasn't a good start," Olausson said about his dramatic improvement. "That's the best way I can sum it up. You've got to be on top of your game at all times. When things aren't going well, sure, you're concerned."
Playing with the top line hasn't hurt Olausson's effectiveness.
"I'm out on the ice a lot with Teemu and Paul and that can make a huge difference," he said. "We've all gotten to know each other better. It's helped, especially with a defense partner like Salei. He's always looking after me.
"I'm really looking forward to the games. We've made progress. It's because the team is doing well that individuals are doing well. I always have fun--sometimes more, sometimes less."
It turns out that goalie Guy Hebert's new contract isn't as lucrative as initially reported.
Hebert, who signed a three-year extension Feb. 4, will be paid a base salary of $3.4 million next season, $3.6 million in 2000-01 and $3.8 million in 2001-02 for a total of $10.8 million.
A hefty signing bonus plus other incentives brings the deal to about $12 million.
Hebert's salary this season is $2.6 million, trailing only Kariya's $8.5 million and Selanne's $4.75 million on the Ducks.
Dominik Hasek of the Buffalo Sabres is the highest-paid goalie in the NHL at $8 million this season.
Hebert picked up an assist on Selanne's first-period power-play goal, his first point this season and the third of his career.