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Pro Hockey | DUCK REPORT

Oates Out at Least a Month

October 26, 2002|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

EDMONTON, Canada — Adam Oates, who signed as a free agent with the Mighty Ducks in the off-season, will have surgery today to have screws put in his broken left hand.

Oates, 41, suffered two broken bones in his hand after being slashed in Thursday's 2-2 tie with Vancouver. The timetable for his return will be determined after the surgery, but he will be sidelined at least a month.

"You don't replace a guy like Adam Oates," Coach Mike Babcock said. "He is so strong on the power play and faceoffs. This is a big thing. That's reality. But this does provide an opportunity. Someone else is going to get ice time. For the long-term, that may help us."

On a positive note, center is the one position where the Ducks have depth. They will be able to fill out four lines with proven NHL centers -- Steve Rucchin, Andy McDonald, Matt Cullen and Marc Chouinard.

"No one can take [Adam's] place," Rucchin said. "We all have to try to chip in a little extra. Adam is not only a great offensive center, he is a great two-way center."

Oates' absence will be felt the most on the power play, where his skill on the half-board is effective. The Ducks have scored seven power-play goals in seven games this season. They didn't score seven until their 13th game last season.

"It's a huge loss for us," Duck captain Paul Kariya said. "Hopefully, he heals quickly."

Oates has played 243 of 246 games over the last three seasons. He signed a one-year, $3.5-million contract plus a team option, which becomes automatic if Oates and the team reach certain incentives, one being the Ducks qualifying for the playoffs.

General Manager Bryan Murray said the team would not make a roster move until after tonight's game. Centers Jason Krog and Samuel Pahlsson are candidates to be recalled from minor league Cincinnati.

*

What caused the Ducks to disintegrate over the last three seasons? Can the team be revived? Is there a buyer on the horizon? Will the franchise be moved if attendance hovers around the 6,000-8,000 level?

All good questions. But Disney spokeswoman Leslie Goodman said that Chief Executive Michael Eisner won't discuss the Ducks now.

"The focus is on baseball now," Goodman said.

Now, if the Ducks, like the Angels, make the playoffs....

*

TONIGHT

at Edmonton, 5 PDT, Channel 9

Site -- SkyReach Center.

Radio -- KPLS (830).

Records -- Ducks 2-3-2-0, Oilers 1-4-2-0.

Record vs. Oilers (2001-02) -- 1-2-0-1.

Update -- The Ducks have not won in Edmonton since the 1998-99 season, going 0-6-0-1 in that time.

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