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DUCK-KING REPORT

Smirnov Finding a Comfort Zone

September 30, 2003|Chris Foster And Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

There are a few noticeable differences in second-year forward Alexei Smirnov this season. For starters, although English is still his second language, it is less a barrier than a year ago.

"I can understand what the coaches and other players say to me," Smirnov said. "That makes me more comfortable on the ice. No one needs to translate for me."

Smirnov credits his improvement to a private tutor, his girlfriend, a college student in Southern California and, like Smirnov, from Russia.

"She won't let me speak Russian," said Smirnov, who had three goals in 44 games with the Ducks last season. "It's all English."

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Wednesday October 01, 2003 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 0 inches; 30 words Type of Material: Correction
NHL -- Jethro Bodine, a character on "The Beverly Hillbillies" television show, was misidentified as Jethro Clampett in a notebook on the Mighty Ducks and Kings in Sports on Tuesday.

Smirnov's understanding on the ice seems to have improved as well. He has planted his 6-foot-4, 218-pound frame in front of the net on several occasions, and was rewarded with a goal against the Kings in the first exhibition game.

"For us, he has to be a banger and a tenacious guy," Coach Mike Babcock said. "He needs to be the type of guy he can be."

The deeper talent pool that the Ducks have at this training camp makes improvement necessary.

"I think he has made a huge step from last year," Babcock said. "Last year, [Stanislav Chistov] and him came here and we put them on the team. The difference between last year and this year is, no one is getting put on the team."

*

The Ducks' two exhibition games over the weekend did little to clear up who wins the last spot on the roster. Joffrey Lupul and Ryan Getzlaf, the two rookies who appear to be competing for the job, each scored a goal in a 2-1 victory over San Jose on Saturday.

"We have guys who are making it real hard for us to make decisions, which is what we're supposed to do." Babcock said. "I don't [have] the minutes figured out and I don't have the lines figured out and I don't know who is on [the team] right now. I got some 'ciphering to do, as Jethro [Clampett] would say. All I know is, I don't know."

*

A television reporter who had just finished interviewing forward Petr Sykora asked a Duck media relations official, "We have some time left, do you think Paul could come up?"

The reporter was told, politely, that Paul Kariya now plies his trade in Colorado. *

King forwards Jason Allison and Adam Deadmarsh, whose recovery from concussions from last season has been the focus of training camp, will not play in the final three preseason games, Coach Andy Murray said.

It is not known whether they will play in the season opener Oct. 9 at Detroit.

Allison and Deadmarsh have gradually increased the intensity of their skating at practice but have not been cleared to play with contact.

"They're the ones that tell us how they feel," Murray said. "Until they're ready for contact they will not play."

Deadmarsh said he's "99% there" but he occasionally feels the effects of the concussion.

Allison, whose concussion came nearly six weeks after Deadmarsh's, appears to be somewhat behind Deadmarsh in his recovery.

*

The Kings will submit to the NHL today the 18 skaters and two goaltenders they will protect for Friday's waiver draft.

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