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Burke embraces honor of his team playing overseas

September 28, 2007|Chuck Culpepper | Special to The Times

LONDON -- The Kings' ownership tie to London's O2 Arena and the Kings' get-accustomed trip to Austria would seem to give them an edge in effusiveness regarding this monster trip to open the season.

But then you might listen to Brian Burke.

"When I come to London, the first thing I think of is how many of the greatest people who have walked this planet have walked here," the Ducks' 52-year-old general manager said Thursday in the lobby of the team hotel.

He mentioned the "soldiers, sailors, authors, poets, leaders."

He glowed about past visits to the Tower of London, where they keep the crown jewels.

During a news conference that preceded his remarks, he sold the need to sell the league in all corners.

Given that the Ducks signed on to this before the Stanley Cup run that consumed them all the way to June 6, it's an unusual start, he agreed.

"Yeah," he said, "but when the league asks you to go, you go. When the NHL asks you to represent them overseas, you go."

He referred to it as "an honor," and to the United Kingdom as "a great ally to the U.S."

With the Ducks having arrived Tuesday night and practiced Wednesday before a day off on Thursday, the Kings have been more continental. They ended up practicing Thursday morning in Salzburg, Austria, after winning an exhibition tournament there Wednesday night, then flew to London by mid-afternoon, took a one-hour boat tour and had a team-and-staff dinner.

They'll hold a reception today at the arena for about 200 Kings fans plus announce their team captain.

Meanwhile, the Ducks' course of choice apparently was Royal St. George's, which has held 13 British Opens, most recently Ben Curtis' implausible win in 2003, with 2011 its next turn on the rotation.

"It can't all be about push-push-push," Coach Randy Carlyle said of the trip.

In addition to the arrival of Todd Bertuzzi, whom Carlyle deems an ideal fit for the Ducks' "north-south" style, the Ducks' early themes include the challenges of the short summer and the challenges of becoming the first team to repeat since Detroit in 1997-98.

The summer, goaltender Jean-Sebastian Giguere said, has been "compressed. Everything has been compressed." He reasoned, "But you know, summers, that's how they should be. Should be short like that. You play to win the Cup."

Carlyle rated it "like it was just a blink of the eye" and said, "We felt it was just a little bit too rushed."

Asked which London famous sights he hoped to see, Carlyle said he hoped to see his team reach its potential.

"We don't think we've played to the level we can in this pre-season," he said.

Noting the shortcomings of the champions since 1998, veteran Brad May said all deserved praise but guessed, "Complacency is probably the biggest factor."

Chris Pronger said, "Each time we step on the ice, you know, we have to be going forward. Yeah, we won this year. But when people look at us," they still should say, "Here we go again, we've got to play these guys. . . . Make sure there's wave after wave. Make sure we're grinding on the other team."

May added, "We're not following any other traditions. This is us."

Said Giguere: "I really believe in what we have in the dressing room."

Having made the team, former No. 2 overall draft pick Bobby Ryan should get "at least 10-12 minutes of ice time" each game, Carlyle said. "If we can't afford that, he shouldn't be here," meaning he'd be better off playing more for the team's American Hockey League affiliate in Maine, the Portland Pirates.

Only 20, Ryan "has changed dramatically from a junior hockey player to a young professional hockey player," Carlyle said, later adding, "He has earned this opportunity with training camp."

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