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DUCKS REPORT

Wholesale Changes Not Needed This Time

September 18, 2006|Eric Stephens | Times Staff Writer

Change was the operative word at the Ducks' training camp last season with new ownership and new personnel throughout the organization, including the coaching staff and front office.

The atmosphere around the team was filled with excitement and uncertainty after a disappointing 2003-04 season followed by an NHL lockout that wiped out 2004-05. One question swept around the dressing room.

Just who is this Randy Carlyle, a longtime defenseman but a neophyte as an NHL head coach? A year later and a stirring postseason run behind the Ducks, Carlyle is no longer the tough-talking newcomer.

He still talks a tough game. But new? Not anymore.

"We've had a year to learn what he expects and what he demands," center Andy McDonald said. "Certainly, when you go on the ice, you keep that in mind."

On the surface, things appear to be more set this camp with few roster spots up for grabs. All but four of the 18 skaters who suited up in Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Edmonton Oilers return.

Carlyle said that doesn't mean he has everything set in stone for the remaining two-plus weeks of camp.

"There's always things," he said. "The makeup of acquiring a guy like [Chris] Pronger. How does that impact other decisions on your roster? It does. That's just the way it is."

Forward Rob Niedermayer said that it helps to know what to expect from Carlyle but that nothing can be taken for granted.

"You never can really have that attitude," Niedermayer said. "That's one good thing about it. What makes a team better is having competition. You want to be pushed at every position. That's just going to make everybody better."

Said McDonald: "Everyone's competing for jobs. You can say that things are more set this year, but the reality is there's always somebody that's trying to take your job. You have to prepare every day like that."

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The hockey world knew all about the Ducks' trade for Pronger, but Niedermayer didn't find out until two days later when he was in London preparing to return home after a safari in Africa.

It's not the first time he has been out of the loop. Three years ago, Niedermayer was on vacation in Alaska when Paul Kariya left the Ducks as a free agent and the team signed Sergei Fedorov to replace their former captain.

"I've got to stop taking them," Niedermayer joked. "It's on these trips when all the stuff is going on."

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Winger Todd Fedoruk scored on goalie David McKee in a shootout at the end of the team's scrimmage and hammed it up for the crowd, drawing a large ovation in response.

So does that mean he'll be part of the shootout lineup during the season? "I'd better not be," said Fedoruk, who has 14 goals in his career. "We've got too much talent in the lineup for me to be in there."

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Goalies Ilya Bryzgalov and Michael Leighton will suit up for tonight's exhibition against the Kings at the Arrowhead Pond. The Ducks will trot out a lineup featuring second-year forwards Ryan Getzlaf, Corey Perry, Dustin Penner and defensemen Francois Beauchemin and Joe DiPenta. Veteran center Travis Green and 2005 first-round pick Bobby Ryan will also play.

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eric.stephens@latimes.com

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