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Pacific
Yi-Wen Yen
October 02, 2006
Anaheim Ducks
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October 02, 2006

Pacific

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LAST SEASON 44-27-11, fifth in West; lost in second round to Edmonton

KEY ADDITIONS LW Mark Bell, C Curtis Brown, RW Mike Grier

KEY LOSSES C Alyn McCauley, LW Scott Thornton

After toiling in obscurity for four seasons in Chicago, newly acquired left wing Mark Bell is finally getting attention--just not the kind of attention he wanted. Ten days before training camp began last month Bell, 26, allegedly rear-ended a pickup truck, left the scene and walked for about a quarter mile before San Jose police caught up to him. No one was seriously injured, but Bell, who is still expected to play alongside Hart Trophy winner Joe Thornton (box, page 97) and right wing Jonathan Cheechoo on what could be the NHL's best line, was arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and felony hit-and-run. His arraignment was postponed until October.

The Sharks' other newcomers have kept a lower profile. After a disheartening loss to the Oilers in last season's playoffs (the Sharks once led the series two games to none), San Jose brought in free-agent center Curtis Brown and winger Mike Grier, a defensive specialist, to take critical face-offs and to help kill penalties. They join a club that has great depth on defense--and very high expectations. Says coach Ron Wilson, "This team is competing for the Stanley Cup. Anything short of that is a disappointment."

Dallas Stars

LAST SEASON 53-23-6, second in West; lost in first round to Colorado

KEY ADDITIONS C Eric Lindros, C Patrik Stefan, D Darryl Sydor

KEY LOSSES C Jason Arnott, C Niko Kapanen, D Willie Mitchell

Goalie Marty Turco's disappointing performance in the playoffs--the heavily favored Stars were knocked out by the Avalanche in the first round in each of the last two seasons--has exhausted the patience of coach Dave Tippett. "I put trust in a lot of [veterans], and the results haven't been there," says Tippett. "When that happens, you tend to trust less. You make sure things get done without relying on those players."

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