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Stanley Cup Playoffs | DUCK REPORT

Thomas Misses Family During Run for the Cup

May 08, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

Steve Thomas has one regret.

His family has to watch him and the Mighty Ducks on television back in Toronto. Certainly the replays must be nice, especially the one where Thomas showed a lot of patience waiting for Dallas goalie Marty Turco to commit before flicking in a power-play goal in Game 6 Monday.

Thomas just wishes that they had front-row seats for the Ducks' run through the playoffs, in which he has been a major player. He had a goal and two assists in the Game 6 victory over Dallas. He also had the game-winning goal in Game 2 against Detroit in the first round.

"It would really be awesome if my family was here to enjoy this," said Thomas, 39. "I'm staying right next to Disneyland and my son and daughter would love that.

"They did get to see Game 2 in Detroit and that was nice for everyone. I just miss them. My daughter has learned my cell phone number and has been calling every 10 minutes. I love it."

Thomas was traded from Chicago to the Ducks on March 11, a key deal as he scored 10 goals in 12 games after the trade.

But his wife Lori, 10-year-old son Christian, and 9-year-old daughter Lauren went from Chicago back to the family's home in Toronto, where the children were re-enrolled in school.

"We were able to get them in the private school there for the third term, which is really hard to do," Thomas said. "But that means my wife has her hands full. My son plays hockey and is on a traveling soccer team."

There is a chance for an early family reunion if the Ducks continue to play as they have in the playoffs.

"If we make the [Stanley Cup] final, maybe they can come out here," Thomas said.

For the hockey?

"Never mind the hockey, they'd be at Disneyland every day," Thomas said.


The Ducks have developed an annoying habit -- annoying, at least, to their opponents -- of scoring late goals, either to tie the score or win the game.

That has given them a psychological edge, winger Mike Leclerc said.

"The other team knows that we are not going to fold or quit," Leclerc said. "And we know we can pull out any close game. That's a big thing. It makes us believers."

The Ducks scored a goal in the final two minutes in each of their last three victories over Dallas. Sandis Ozolinsh had the game-winner with 1 minute 6 seconds left Monday. Leclerc scored to win Game 4 with 1:47 left. Rob Niedermayer scored to tie Game 2 with 1:09 left, with Leclerc getting the game-winner 3:41 into overtime.

The clutch goals extend into overtime, as the Ducks have a 4-0 record in overtime games in the playoffs.

"We have been doing this all year," Paul Kariya said. "We see no reason to panic in those situations. You feel confident in those types of games.

"We hang around and hang around and find a way to pull a game out."

The Ducks won 24 one-goal games during the regular season, tying them with New Jersey for the most in the NHL. The Ducks have won eight one-goal games during the playoffs. And they have won their last four playoff games -- and six of eight playoff victories -- with their last shot.


Patric Kjellberg has left the Ducks for "family reasons," Coach Mike Babcock said. He is not expected to return.

"It was a tough decision for him," Babcock said. "But he had to go."

Kjellberg, a right winger, has been an effective penalty killer. His size, 6 feet 3, 218 pounds, gave the Ducks a physical presence on their fourth line.

"I feel bad for Patric, but you have to take care of your family," Kariya said.

Babcock has three options to replace Kjellberg: Dan Bylsma, Marc Chouinard and rookie Jonathan Hedstrom, who has been working out in Anaheim and practiced with the team Wednesday.

"Chouinard and Bylsma are good penalty killers and Hedstrom can fly," Babcock said.

Chouinard has played seven playoff games but was a healthy scratch Monday. Bylsma, one of the Ducks' top penalty killers the last two seasons, has not played since Feb 9, when he re-injured his knee. Hedstrom played in one regular-season game.

"I'm ready to go," Bylsma said. "The knee is fine."

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