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DUCK-KING REPORT

Avery Directs Anger Off Ice

April 08, 2006|Chris Foster and Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writers

The Kings' Sean Avery voiced concern Friday, but not about his team's listless play in a 5-0 loss to San Jose on Thursday. Nor was it about the Mighty Ducks, who -- unlike the Kings -- are barreling into the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Instead, Avery let loose more passion than he or his teammates displayed on the ice against the Sharks, unleashing an unprompted, obscenity-laced tirade at Brian Hayward, the Ducks' color commentator who is part of the NBC broadcast team for today's game at Staples Center.

In a season full of look-at-me moments by Avery, add this: He walked into the dressing room Friday and started cursing at Hayward for comments the former NHL goaltender made about Avery's attitude during Tuesday's 6-2 rout by the Ducks. Avery twice walked briskly at Hayward, but players and team officials interceded.

The incident ended with Avery criticizing Hayward's ability as a player. To which Hayward, a Cornell University graduate, replied: "How would you know? You were in the third year of the eighth grade then."

Avery's outburst, which lasted about three minutes, came as the Kings prepared for their final regular-season meeting with the Ducks.

Teammates have privately expressed weariness with Avery's antics; publicly they have supported him.

When asked whether the anger on display Friday should be channeled elsewhere, such as on the ice, the Kings' Eric Belanger said, "Oh yeah, I don't know what was said during that game, but this is not the place for that."

Avery's latest show came a day after he spent much of the third period on the bench. While his effectiveness on the ice has diminished, he still leads the NHL with 257 penalty minutes.

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The Ducks, who begin a five-game trip with today's game, are in fifth place with 92 points and have a five-point cushion on ninth-place Vancouver, a team they play Monday. If things go their way, the Ducks could clinch a playoff spot with a victory against the Canucks. But defenseman Ruslan Salei said they can't worry about that.

"We still have to win every game we play," he said. "We just have to worry about the next game. The next game against L.A. is the most important game of the year. You can't get ahead of yourself.... "

Duck Coach Randy Carlyle has regularly gone with the "one-game-at-a-time" refrain, especially during this playoff chase. The message has apparently been heard: The team hasn't lost more than two in a row since November.

"We feel comfortable doing it that way and our players have responded," Carlyle said.

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Perhaps to lighten the mood and relieve pressure, Carlyle had players re-enact gaffes committed in Thursday's loss to Dallas.

Several players were instructed to fling the puck from their end of the ice into the netting above the glass at the other end, as Salei inadvertently did to draw a delay of game penalty that led to a Dallas goal. Many of them did.

"I guess I'm not the only one," Salei cracked.

Forward Joffrey Lupul then nailed an impression of Ryan Getzlaf's tumble to the ice that Dallas forward Niklas Hagman turned into a breakaway for a short-handed goal.

"I think it brings everybody closer together when we can all laugh at one another because we all make mistakes and we've all been in those situations at some point or another," Carlyle said.

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Kevin Dineen, who coaches the Ducks' minor-league affiliate the Portland Pirates, was named American Hockey League coach of the year.

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DUCKS-KINGS

TODAY

3 p.m., Channel 4

Site -- Staples Center.

Radio -- 710, 1540.

Records -- Kings 40-33-5, Ducks 40-24-12.

Season Series -- Ducks lead, 4-3.

Update -- A win by the Ducks would set a franchise record with 41 victories. They won 40 games in 2002-03 when they reached the Stanley Cup finals. Right wing Teemu Selanne has burned the Kings for four goals in the last two games. The Kings will be without defenseman Aaron Miller (back injury), but defenseman Nathan Dempsey (concussion) was cleared to play.

Tickets -- (888) 546-4752.

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