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DUCK NOTEBOOK : Wilson Opts to Break Camp Early

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Coach Ron Wilson is pleased enough with the condition his players are in that the Mighty Ducks are breaking their mountain camp this afternoon and returning to Anaheim 1 1/2 days early.

Wilson also is cutting back on a grueling practice schedule that would have put the players on the ice five hours today.

“Takeaways and givebacks, those are concepts they understand,” he said, cracking a little post-labor dispute joke. Wilson said he planned the more extensive schedule “just in case we weren’t in the shape we’re in.”

He also learned only Saturday that the agreement between the NHL and the players’ union limits time on the ice to three hours a day during the week of preparations for the shortened season.

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Sunday afternoon, the players and coaches were in front of television screens watching the NFL playoff games after Wilson agreed to postpone the day’s second workout to early evening so they could watch--another sign that whatever ill will the labor dispute engendered is nearly gone.

By evening, a snowstorm had begun, and the team took a bus down the hill and scrimmaged on the partly open-air rink during a snowfall punctuated by rare thunder and lightning.

The team will practice Tuesday in Anaheim and is planning to depart Wednesday for Edmonton and practice there Thursday before their season-opener Friday against the Oilers.

The home opener is next Monday at The Pond, also against the Oilers.

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The first official violator of the new “L-word” rule banning the word lockout has been nabbed and fined.

The culprit is General Manager Jack Ferreira.

“We nailed him, 25 bucks,” Wilson said. “He said it at a table of six or seven and we picked right up on it. He turned all red.”

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So what exactly did Ferreira say?

“You’re not getting me to say it,” Wilson said.

Notes

None of the players seem to have gained weight during the lockout, and center Bob Corkum and right wing Todd Ewen lost about 15 pounds each. Left wing Paul Kariya lost perhaps 10 needed pounds. . . . The player who most clearly remains out of shape is rookie defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky, who has been hampered for more than three months by groin and foot problems, diagnosed recently as Reiters Syndrome, a condition in which a staph infection settles in the joints. “He’s quite a bit behind the other guys condition-wise, and he’s had a tough time getting healthy,” said Wilson, who added that Tverdovsky--the No. 2 pick in the NHL entry draft last June--might need a brief stint with San Diego before making his NHL debut. . . . Under the new collective bargaining agreement, the salaries of Garry Valk, Todd Ewen, Stu Grimson and Stephan Lebeau for this season will be determined by binding arbitration hearings unless they reach a new agreement before their hearing dates. . . . Ewen missed Sunday’s workouts because of a chest cold. Valk bruised his left knee and left the rink on crutches as a precaution.

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