Divided Ducks Fall to Blackhawks
Ron Wilson took out a scalpel-sharp pencil Friday to start scratching names from his Mighty Duck lineup, and one player’s resentment boiled over in an ugly scene at the morning skate.
Todd Krygier, the Ducks’ second-leading scorer, shouted at Wilson in an expletive-laced tirade that can only politely be described as a forget-you fight after learning he wouldn’t play on a night when his parents were in the United Center stands to watch the Ducks, who lost to the Blackhawks, 3-0.
Called to center ice by Wilson as the morning skate wrapped up, Krygier argued loudly.
Wilson, calm at first, answered in kind.
“I don’t have a comment; I have a job to do,” Wilson said before his team was shut out by Chicago goalie Jeff Hackett on only 13 shots--one in the first, four in the second and eight in the third.
“It’s between me and Krygier,” Wilson added. “I told him he’d be sitting out and he wasn’t happy. I can understand that. He doesn’t want to accept it, but I’ve decided. He’s been minus. It’s just a decision that has to be made; he wasn’t playing well and he has to be accountable.”
Krygier was left out of the lineup along with third-leading scorer Mike Sillinger and defenseman David Karpa after the Ducks’ dismal performance in a 7-2 loss to Boston on Thursday.
Krygier’s mistake Friday wasn’t so much that he went ballistic, but that he did it on the ice--not only in front of the other Duck players but in front of Chicago Coach Craig Hartsburg.
“Of course I’m upset,” said Krygier, who’s usually mild-tempered. “I’ll be honest with you, I just think if Ron has a problem or I have a problem he should come to me.
"[But] they’ve been good to me here. He’s the coach, and I don’t question his authority.”
Krygier has nine goals and 33 points but has a plus-minus rating of minus-6. He has only one goal and three assists in his last 11 games. Sillinger hasn’t scored a goal in 13 games and is a team-worst minus-17. Karpa has made crucial errors resulting in goals, and is minus-8.
“I understand that in the last 12 games I don’t have a goal and I’m not producing,” Sillinger said. “But the only way to get out of a slump is to play through it.
“All our jobs are on the line, including the coaching staff. He had to prove a point. Different coaches do different things. Obviously there’s desperation right now.
“It’s not like I’m the happiest guy either. But it would be the worst thing I could do right now to blast off in the paper and say what [a jerk] he is. I’m a professional athlete, I’ve got to accept things like this.”
Wilson could have chosen others to scratch. Rookie Chad Kilger doesn’t have a goal in his past 18 games. Defenseman Randy Ladouceur was minus-five against Boston loss and his 35-year-old legs looked it.
“Myself, I think the guys picked out today could very well have been some others,” defenseman Bobby Dollas said. “It happened to be those guys today. The next game it could be some others.
“Paul Kariya can’t do it all. You couldn’t even put Mario Lemieux on this team and expect to win games. Even Lemieux has to have some support.”
Wilson knew the players he picked would pack more of a wallop than scratching someone like Kilger.
“Chad’s only 19 years old,” Wilson said. “Sometimes they just expect the young guy to get axed. But we’re not in any position when you consider where guys have come from and what their careers have been for them to expect a job to be handed to them or be treated any different than they have in the past. You’ve got to earn your spot.
“Hopefully, they’ll respond and come back and play with intensity in Winnipeg. All three of them will be back in the lineup. And if they don’t respond, then I’ve got a problem.”
The problems against Chicago began two minutes into the game when Brent Sutter scored after Duck defenseman Oleg Tverdovsky gave up the puck. It was 2-0 after 4:02 when Jeremy Roenick scored on a power play.
The Ducks lacked jump and it’s no wonder after a grueling trip on which they’ve awoken in Edmonton, Pittsburgh, Philadelphia, Boston and Chicago since Monday.
General Manager Jack Ferreira made light of reports of Krygier’s blow-up, saying, “It’s good to see some emotion, at least.”
“The only thing I can say is if a guy wasn’t upset he wasn’t playing . . . For a guy to blow up, I don’t get too bent out of shape.
“I could care less. It doesn’t bother me. It’s Ron’s decision. If he decides a guy’s not playing well, that’s his decision.”
As for the effect on the team of an on-ice shouting match, “Sometimes it makes the player look like a fool,” Ferreira said.
Center David Sacco was activated from injured reserve and winger Peter Douris was put on IR retroactive to Dec. 28 because of a groin strain.