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DUCK REPORT

He's in Right Place; Is It Right Time?

May 20, 2003|Chris Foster | Times Staff Writer

This will be Adam Oates' second Stanley Cup finals, and the 40-year-old center knows it could be his last.

Oates was with Washington in 1998 when the Detroit Red Wings bounced the Capitals in four games, so it's important to him to win it this time, sure.

But it's also about winning the Cup in the right place. And this, he said, feels right.

"No matter what happens now, this has been great," said Oates, who has a $3.5-million team option for next season in his contract. "I have been able to contribute to this team, everyone here has contributed. I feel good about that."

It certainly is preferable to the spot Oates was in last season, when he was traded from Washington to Philadelphia on March 19.

Oates was a natural trade-deadline pickup. He is sixth all-time in assists with 1,063 in his 18-season NHL career, and is considered a sure-fire Hall of Fame selection.

But he played only 14 regular-season games with the Flyers, then five more against Ottawa in the playoffs. Even if the Flyers had gone on to win the Stanley Cup, it would not have felt right to Oates.

"I wasn't there bleeding with them all year," said Oates, who is tied for the Duck lead with 10 points in the playoffs. "Look at Luc Robitaille. He went to Detroit, played five minutes a game and got his ring. I don't know Luc, maybe that's fine with him. It's a matter of personal preference."

Oates watched Ray Bourque, a close friend and teammate for six seasons with the Boston Bruins, labor for years to get his moment with the Stanley Cup. Bourque finally got it -- but with the Colorado Avalanche.

"He has a ring, but it's says 'Avalanche' on it," Oates said. "He spent 21 seasons in Boston; where's the bleeding black and gold? He wanted to win it there."

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No matter the opponent, New Jersey or Ottawa, the Ducks' recent history hasn't included much success.

The Ducks have lost seven of their last eight games to New Jersey, which includes a 3-2 overtime loss and 3-1 regulation loss this season.

The Ducks have not beaten Ottawa since the 1997-98 season, going 0-5-2 against the Senators in that span.

Coach Mike Babcock has been monitoring the Eastern Conference series as best he can.

"My wife and kids usually get the big TV downstairs, with the remote that can rewind and play back," Babcock said. "I usually get the old TV set upstairs, with the color fading and the tiny screen. Maybe it's time for the Babcock family to step it up and get another TV."

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Single-game tickets for Duck home games in the Stanley Cup finals will go on sale Wednesday at 10 a.m. Tickets will be available from Ticketmaster, at (714) 703-2545 or (213) 480-3232, and at the Arrowhead Pond Box Office, where randomly numbered wristbands will be handed out starting at 8 a.m. Fans arriving after 9:30 a.m., or after all wrist bands have been distributed, will be placed in a first-come, first-served line.

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