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How the Ducks Moved Up

May 07, 2003|Chris Foster

Twelve moves that made the Ducks a better hockey team:

1: Start from scratch. The Ducks did. General Manager Pierre Gauthier was fired. Yeah, he got Jean-Sebastien Giguere and Keith Carney. But with him gone, people were allowed to do things around the office ... like breathe.

2: Bryan Murray. Promoted from coach to general manager, he overhauled the roster, bringing in players who made the Ducks better -- a novel concept. Also put a human face on Duck management.

3: Mike Babcock. Until this season, he'd never spent a day in the NHL. Probably should have been the coach of the year, although the NHL broadcasters who vote on such things didn't have him as one of the three finalists. Anyone care to revote?

4: Goalie Steve Shields traded. With Giguere around, who needed a $2-million backup? This freed up money for help on offense. Shields was last seen flopping in the crease while Boston flopped in the playoffs.

5: Stanislav Chistov, Alexei Smirnov, Martin Gerber. Top Duck prospects were spending a lot of time in Europe. Murray had the bright idea to sign these guys. Chistov and Gerber had immediate impact.

6: Adam Oates. Yeah, he is old and memories of Jari Kurri flashed. Also headed to Hall of Fame and showed why; after recovery from broken hand, he has been worth every penny. Assisted on winning goals in Games 1 and 2 against Dallas.

7: Jeff Friesen, Oleg Tverdovsky and Petr Sykora. Friesen and Tverdovsky were unhappy in Anaheim and were sent to New Jersey. Sykora led the Ducks with 34 goals. How does a Devil-Duck final sound?

8: Steve Rucchin. Murray gave the big lug of a center a four-year deal. Disney management resisted some, considering Rucchin's injuries. Question now is: How much would Rucchin have been worth as an unrestricted free agent this summer?

9: Kurt Sauer and Jason Krog. Who? The Ducks outbid Colorado for Sauer, a rugged rookie defenseman, and Krog, a New York Islander castoff. Is there a better 23-year-old in the NHL than Sauer? Krog merely has three goals in the playoffs.

10: German Titov and Jason York. Thanks for playing, here are your parting gifts. The Ducks' two "marquee" free agents from the previous two summers were expunged from the roster. Ducks made the playoffs. Do the math.

11: Sandis Ozolinsh. Ozolinsh had a reputation as a roamer. He also was known as an effective offense-playing defenseman. Was he worth Matt Cullen and Pavel Trnka? Did you see the goal that won the Dallas series Monday?

12: Steve Thomas and Rob Niedermayer. These trade-deadline acquisitions finished the makeover and made the Ducks a team built for the playoffs. Thomas scores gritty goals and Niedermayer is a physical force.

-- Chris Foster

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