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DUCK REPORT

Friesen Excited About Return

March 11, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Jeff Friesen is back although, in a way, he never really left.

The speedy left wing makes his debut tonight against the Phoenix Coyotes in his second tour with the Mighty Ducks, hoping he will fare better this time around.

In 2001, the San Jose Sharks traded Friesen and goalie Steve Shields to Anaheim for Teemu Selanne. Perhaps viewed as the player who replaced the popular Selanne, Friesen clashed with then-coach Bryan Murray and had just 17 goals in 2001-02 while alienating Duck fans.

Friesen, though, kept his off-season home in Laguna Beach and said he is excited about rejoining the Ducks after a disappointing five months with the Washington Capitals.

"Obviously, it's a totally different feel from when I was here the first time," said Friesen, referring to the complete makeover of the Duck organization.

Friesen, 29, was limited to 33 games in Washington because of groin problems. But in 2002-03, he had 23 goals and 51 points for the New Jersey Devils, further enraging Duck supporters with two goals in a 3-0 Game 7 victory in the Stanley Cup finals.

"He's got some experience and he's been around now for a while," said captain and ex-Devil Scott Niedermayer. "He doesn't mind bumping and grinding and he's a great skater. And he's got a good nose for the net. He scored some big goals for us in the playoffs that year."

Ironically, Friesen and Selanne will be playing on the same line. A five-time 20-goal scorer, the forward said he doesn't feel he has to win over the fans.

"I never really look at it that way," Friesen said. "You just do what you can. It's a totally different situation.

"You play with your teammates and that's really all you can do."

With Friesen playing on the top line, rookie Chris Kunitz was paired with Todd Marchant and Joffrey Lupul. Rookie left wing Dustin Penner was sent to minor-league Portland.

TONIGHT

at Phoenix, 6 PST, FSNW2

Site -- Glendale Arena.

Radio -- 1090.

Records -- Ducks 29-20-12; Coyotes 29-30-4.

Record vs. Coyotes -- 4-0-1.

Update -- Defenseman Sean O'Donnell, acquired Thursday from Phoenix, immediately faces his former team. O'Donnell said it will be awkward going against guys he played with so recently. "I wish we were starting against someone else, let's put it that way."

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