Work in Sports
PACIFIC DIVISION |
5 Anaheim Mighty Ducks
Team Page | 2000-2001 Schedule | Roster
Sports Illustrated Ranking: 18
By Mark Bechtel
For years the Mighty Ducks have been like an episode of Baywatch : fun to watch, not to be taken seriously and spectacularly top-heavy. Last season was no different. Wingers Paul Kariya and Teemu Selanne anchored an awesome first line, finishing fourth and fifth, respectively, in the NHL scoring race. The rest of the team, however, was less offensive than Katie Couric. No forward on any of Anaheim's other lines could muster more than the 15 goals scored by defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky.
To remedy the situation, the Ducks brought in yet another player they are touting as the solution to their second-line woes. This year's model is German Titov, late of the Penguins, who signed a three-year contract on the first day of the free-agent signing period last summer and who Selanne says stands out from past would-be saviors by being "strong like a bull." Titov, 35, has averaged 19 goals in seven NHL seasons and, coupled with the return to form of left wing Marty McInnis, who missed 20 of the final 32 games last season with a torn abdominal muscle, may give Anaheim a decent second line.
There's no question, of course, about the Ducks' one-two punch. Selanne and Kariya were the league's highest-scoring combo for the third time in four years, despite the fact that each battled nagging injuries. Over the summer, Selanne worked hard to rehabilitate his sore back, which limited him to 33 goals last year, a career low for a full season. Kariya, on the other hand, took it easy for a change. In 1999-2000 he missed training camp and the season opener because of a hip injury he sustained working out over the summer, the most recent in a string of early-season ailments he has suffered. He finished the season with 86 points, down from 101 in '98-99. "It's been years since I've been completely healthy," says Kariya. "What I've learned is, it's much better to be 100 percent healthy and 95 percent in shape than 100 percent in shape and 95 percent healthy."
The hard-working Kariya even took two vacations, to Maui and Palm Springs, Calif. "When I was antsy to get to the gym, and I wasn't feeling good, I thought, I'm not going through a year like last year again, and I stayed home," says Kariya. "I'm not stupid. I'm not going to make the same mistakes three or four times. Sooner or later you learn."
Sooner or later the Ducks will have to learn that without more than one solid line, meaningful games in April are rare.
Issue date: October 16, 2000
Click here to look back at CNNSI.com's training-camp previews.