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Original Issue

19 Anaheim Mighty Ducks An organizational overhaul results in help--finally--for star wing Paul Kariya

Before playing the Mighty Ducks last season, opposing coaches
must have told their players, "Don't let Paul Kariya score. If he
has an opportunity, flatten him. Drag him to the ice and sit on
him if you have to--just don't let him score!"

With few other Anaheim scoring threats to be concerned about--and
none close to the ultratalented left wing--teams clamped down on
Kariya, and it worked. Three years after putting up 101 points,
he had 57 in 2001-02; the Mighty Ducks ranked 29th in goals
scored. Opponents didn't have to worry about breaking the rules
to stop him either, because Anaheim converted only 11.5% of its
power plays, the worst mark in the league.

As a result the Mighty Ducks (29-42-8-3) finished 25 points out
of a playoff spot, and drastic changes were made. G.M. Pierre
Gauthier was fired, coach Bryan Murray was moved up to that spot,
and Murray tapped the hard-nosed coach of Anaheim's minor league
affiliate in Cincinnati, Mike Babcock, 39, to succeed him. "He
has the personality we need," says Murray, "the kind of
personality that will bring enthusiasm and grit into our locker

Then Murray went to work on the roster, with his primary
objective to surround Kariya with gifted offensive players. This
year Kariya will likely start alongside 40-year-old center Adam
Oates, a free-agent pickup who led the league in assists last
year (64), and right wing Petr Sykora, who was acquired from the
Devils and scored 81 points in 2000-01.

Oates will work his magic on the Ducks' power play, which will
also benefit from the free-agent signing of offensive defenseman
Fredrik Olausson. Just like that, a glaring weakness last season
may become one of the team's strengths this year. "We have the
talent to be Number 1 in the league," Kariya says of the
power-play unit.

Thanks to goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who ranked fifth in the
league in goals-against average (2.13) and save percentage
(.920), the Ducks should stay in most games. An improved power
play plus added support for Kariya will make the team even
better. Says Kariya, "I can't remember being this excited going
into a season in a long time." --Mark Bechtel



The Ducks scored 175 goals in 2001-02, the second fewest in the
league and the lowest full-season total in team history.



OFFENSE 19 Oates-Kariya-Sykora line should prosper
DEFENSE 21 Not much skill; Salei and Vishnevski inconsistent
GOALTENDING 21 Giguere may wear down without reliable backup
SPECIAL TEAMS 21 PP should improve with Oates and Olausson
MANAGEMENT 27 Fired G.M. Gauthier left franchise in tatters