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SPORTS EXTRA / NHL PREVIEW | DUCKS REPORT

Kariya Expects Ruling Today

October 04, 2000|CHRIS FOSTER | TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Ducks will learn today whether left wing Paul Kariya will play Friday night.

Kariya was suspended for Saturday's exhibition game against Phoenix after he received a slashing major and match penalty for what game officials said was an attempt to injure Minnesota's Aaron Gavey on Friday.

A hearing with NHL officials was held Tuesday, with a decision due this morning.

Coach Craig Hartsburg declined to speculate what he would do should Kariya miss more games.

"We are not going to talk about 'ifs,' " Hartsburg said. "We will have plenty of time to make decisions before the first game."

Kariya is a two-time Lady Byng Trophy winner for gentlemanly play and a member of the league's new panel looking into ways to curb injuries. He has 117 penalty minutes in 376 career games.

Kariya was surprised at the suspension, his first at any level of hockey. He said that Gavey had attempted to kick his feet out from under him. He also acknowledged he deserved a minor penalty for slashing. But he was stunned at being given a match penalty.

Any match penalty for attempting to injure another player is subject to review by the league.

The Ducks studied the videotape, looking for incidents by Gavey before the penalty, but could find none. So the hearing was Kariya's word against that of referee Brian Murphy.

Kariya has missed three of the last four season openers. He was injured in 1996-97 and last season. He missed the 1997-98 opener because of a contract dispute.

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The Ducks did not skate Tuesday, as Hartsburg used the day for team unity. The players were divided into three teams and went through fraternity-like competitions. Then they had a team lunch.

"We worked real hard yesterday," Hartsburg said. "This can be a long week if you don't do things right. We want everybody physically and emotionally ready for Friday."

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Defenseman Ruslan Salei's off-season training was a little more official than that of other Duck players, or any other NHL players for that matter.

Salei played at times with Alexander Lukashenko, the president of Belarus.

"He started playing three years ago and he's getting a lot better," said Salei, who was born in Minsk.

Playing hockey with the country's leader can be a little intimidating.

"You're not allowed to check him," Salei said, laughing. "There are guards standing there with guns. But he does have two sons that play with him and they always check him. They get real physical."

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