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DUCK REPORT

Turnover Works Fast

March 27, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Any long-absent Mighty Duck fan finding their way back to the Arrowhead Pond these days would do well to remember old-time logic.

You can't tell the players without a scorecard.

That has never been so true as now for the Ducks. Of the 24 players on the roster for Monday's game, 12 have been brought in since the end of last season, which has helped turn the Ducks into a playoff team.

"As coach last season, I was able to see what was needed up close," General Manager Bryan Murray said. "It was a matter of talking to other general managers who were looking to make changes."

Scoring was at the top of Murray's list. Only Columbus scored fewer goals last season.

Murray was able to do so much, so fast, at so little cost. All it cost him, basically, was four players from last season's team -- Jeff Friesen, Oleg Tverdovsky, Matt Cullen and Pavel Trnka.

The players added to the roster have scored 81 NHL goals for the Ducks. Through Tuesday's games, the players who were jettisoned have scored 36 NHL goals for their new teams, although Timo Parssinen, Jonas Ronnqvist and Antti-Jussi Niemi are having fine seasons ... in Europe.

During the summer, Murray signed free-agent Adam Oates and traded for New Jersey's Petr Sykora.

Murray made three in-season moves to perk up the offense, acquiring forwards Rob Niedermayer and Steve Thomas and offensive defenseman Sandis Ozolinsh. Lance Ward, a solid checking forward and defenseman, was also picked up.

"Bryan has done a great job improving the talent on this team," Coach Mike Babcock said. "The way I look at it, you don't upgrade personnel at all unless you earn it from the general manager. If you're no good, they eliminate players. If you're good, they help you out. It's been that way for 300 years in hockey, or for however long the game has been played."

*

Babcock pointed to three games that were key to the Ducks' season, a 2-2 tie at Montreal on Oct. 29, a 5-3 victory at Colorado on Jan. 9 and a 6-5 victory over the Kings at the Pond on Jan. 22.

"The Montreal game came the night after we embarrassed ourselves in Toronto and the Colorado game was also in a back-to-back situation [and ended a seven-game winless streak]," Babcock said. "The King game was big for the franchise. We hadn't beaten L.A. in it seemed like forever."

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