Leclerc Says He Still Isn’t Ready to Play

Times Staff Writer

As the Mighty Ducks close in on the All-Star break -- two games to go and counting -- they are pondering what needs to happen for them to snare a playoff spot.

The return of a healthy Mike Leclerc is a starting point.

The burly left wing, arguably the Ducks’ best player early in the season, has missed 21 games -- including the last 10 -- because of a left knee injury.

Leclerc has been skating at practice, but there is still concern about how his knee will hold up to quick bursts and the pounding and grinding in the corners.


“I don’t think I’m there yet,” said Leclerc, who has three goals and 15 assists in 27 games. “It’s frustrating not being able to do some of the things I’m used to doing out there. I’ve just got to be patient.”

After a strong start, Leclerc underwent knee surgery in November and missed 11 games. He returned Dec. 11 and had a goal and four assists in two games, but was sidelined again after the knee flared up.

“We need him now,” Coach Mike Babcock said.


Center Andy McDonald, a source of energy who increases the Ducks’ speed, is expected to play Wednesday against Ottawa after missing seven games because of a concussion.

“He plays with a lot of pace to his game,” Babcock said. “A lot of guys think they’re playing with the same energy but they’re not playing at Mach 1.”

McDonald has 10 goals and 11 assists.

McDonald’s return sends right wing Rob Valicevic down to Cincinnati, assuming he clears waivers.