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HELENE ELLIOTT : DUCKS 2 KINGS 0

Ducks' doctor tries to find solace amid fire and ice

November 17, 2008|HELENE ELLIOTT

The day after a wildfire destroyed his Yorba Linda home and left nothing standing but two brick pillars, Craig Milhouse reported for work as the Ducks' team doctor.

"Thank God," Kings defenseman Kyle Quincey said.

Intent on keeping one part of his life the same after the rest was forever changed, Milhouse helped treat a bloody gash on Quincey's left thigh during the third period of the Ducks' 2-0 victory over the Kings at the Honda Center.

Quincey, cut by the skate of Ducks center Samuel Pahlsson, was incredulous that Milhouse was on duty after such a shocking loss. For Milhouse, also the Angels' team doctor and formerly on the medical staff of the Rams and the USC football team, the choice was easy.

"What am I going to do?" he said. "I can't do anything about that right now. I don't want to sit and dwell on it.

"We watched this stuff all day long yesterday even after we found our home was burned. We've already got to start thinking about moving forward because it's done. It's over. We're all fine. The whole family is fine."

Milhouse said he and his wife, Pam, knew there was a fire close by, and after chatting with neighbors decided to put some cherished belongings and important papers in their cars in case they had to flee the home they'd lived in since 1993.

They dug out photos and videos of their sons, Alex, 17, a high school senior, and Jonathan, 19, who plays junior hockey in Portland, Ore. They grabbed the boys' hockey trophies, pictures off the walls, Pam's jewelry and the pieces of fine glassware she collects.

She urged him to retrieve his 2002 World Series ring and his 2007 Stanley Cup ring. He wore the Angels ring on his right hand and the Ducks ring on his left hand Sunday.

"Quite honestly, though, I wasn't ever a huge collector of memorabilia," he said. "But I have some just from the mere fact that I've been around some time. I lost every bit of that.

"I had bats, sticks. I was given a Michigan helmet because I went to school there. I had a couple of USC helmets from when I was the team doctor there.

"I'm trying to think of what else," he said, his eyes glazing over. "I don't even know."

They were staying in a hotel in Anaheim when one of Alex's friends told them their home was gone. Milhouse confirmed it with a neighbor across the street who had stayed behind.

Because he didn't want his older son to worry, he withheld the news until Jonathan's game was over.

The entire family had another shock Sunday morning when Alex saw the front page of The Times. The photograph was of their home, the garage ablaze in defiance of a lone firefighter.

"He said, 'Dad, here's my room right here. Here's our bonus room,' " Milhouse said. "Just amazing."

The pattern of destruction on the street "was very random," he said. "There were four in a row on our side of the street, one across the way, then it skipped one and then another one. . . . Theirs doesn't burn. Ours does. There's no rhyme or reason to that."

He didn't try to figure it out. Instead, he sought comfort from talking to and being with the people he considers family.

Ducks winger Teemu Selanne, who used to live on the same hill, called him Sunday morning. Angels Manager Mike Scioscia and coaches Mike Butcher and Mickey Hatcher consoled him. Former Angel Darin Erstad offered his home. Another former Angel, Jim Edmonds, texted him several times just to keep in touch.

"That meant everything, hearing from all those people," Milhouse said.

Besides Quincey's cut, which is expected to heal before the Kings practice on Tuesday, the Kings and Ducks didn't need Milhouse's services much.

The game was tame for these rivals. The Ducks scored at 11:36 of the second period when Corey Perry lifted a rebound over the right arm of Kings goalie Erik Ersberg, who was making his seventh straight start. About three minutes after Ducks goalie Jonas Hiller made a fine stop by the left post on Brian Boyle, Bret Hedican scored on a knuckler from 50 feet at 15:40 of the third.

The Kings went home to worry about having scored only once in back-to-back weekend losses to Nashville and the Ducks. The Ducks exhaled after their three-game winless streak ended. Milhouse was left to wonder what will come next for him.

"I would see things like this and couldn't imagine how people would feel. You're one of those persons, and it's a devastating thing," he said.

"But it's a house. A house can be rebuilt. This is the kind of thing that brings your family and friends together more. We're going to have to really band together, and all the offers of help from these people is really going to make a big difference."

--

helene.elliott@latimes.com

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