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Already Two Down After One Practice

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TIMES STAFF WRITER

Day 1 of the Mighty Ducks’ training camp and already they were dealing with injuries. A rash of injuries last season helped accelerate their collapse.

The defense, which was beefed up during the off-season, took two hits. Ruslan Salei and Niclas Havelid will miss time during camp while recovering from knee surgeries.

Salei had arthroscopic surgery to remove scar tissue in his right knee Aug. 31. He will miss a week of practice, Duck officials said.

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Salei said he was injured in mid-August during a workout.

“I had soreness and the knee started swelling,” said Salei, who missed 30 games because of injuries last season. “When they examined me, they said I could wait and see if it healed by itself or they could take care of it. It was just better to get it done now.”

Salei skated for 20 minutes Sunday and will skate again today. But he has not been cleared to participate in drills.

“If this was the playoffs, I could play,” he said.

Havelid is another story. Duck officials said he remained in Sweden, awaiting a visa.

Havelid has been slow to recover from major surgery on his right knee. He will not practice with the team when he arrives, and there seemed to be little confidence that he would be ready for the opener.

“I told Niclas that we would not ask him to play until he was 100% ready to go,” Coach Bryan Murray said. “We don’t want him pushing it.”

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Paul Kariya returned to his intense workout regimen this summer, the first step in regaining his strength as a skater. “I went back to lifting to strengthen my legs,” said Kariya, who eased up on his training over the summer a year ago. “The last two seasons, I didn’t have the explosiveness. The ability to pull away from guys wasn’t there.”

Kariya had a head start on camp because he participated in Team Canada’s pre-Olympic camp. He worked out four days with some of the best players in the game.

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The Olympics will be Kariya’s first international competition since 1994. He missed the 1996 World Cup and the 1998 Nagano Olympics because of injuries.

“Missing the Olympics was the biggest disappointment of my career,” Kariya said. “I have family in Japan and my family was going to come over.

“It was a huge disappointment. Hopefully, I will be able to erase that with a goal.”

Kariya missed 16 games last season because of a broken right foot, the third such fracture in three seasons. He chose therapy instead of surgery on the foot this summer and will wear a larger skate this season.

“When you jam your foot into a skate that’s smaller than your shoe size, it puts a lot of pressure on it,” he said. “If anything hits it, there is nowhere for the foot to move.”

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Defenseman Keith Carney was the only other player who did not practiceHe remained in the Phoenix area to be with his wife.

Amy Carney gave birth to triplets, all boys, on Saturday.

Carney is expected to rejoin the team by the weekend.

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Duck players went through practice, but were stunned by the news of the terrorist attacks on the East Coast.

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Salei got a call from a friend in Russia. Murray received one from his wife in Florida.

Marty McInnis spent the morning checking on two brothers-in-law who work in Manhattan, and a friend who worked in the World Trade Center. He learned all were fine.

Steve Rucchin, who missed the final 50 games last season because of injuries, had been anxious as the first day of camp approached.

“I was really nervous about today, then I heard what had happened,” Rucchin said.

“It puts everything in perspective. There are things going on like this--it’s a joke to be nervous about a hockey practice.”

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