Sykora Plays Through Uncertain Status
By Eric Stephens, Times Staff Writer
MONTREAL — The Mighty Ducks got a big boost Saturday night from a player they've been trying to unload, but Petr Sykora's agent doesn't expect there will be any change of heart by the team.
Sykora had a goal and an assist in the Ducks' 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens but Ritch Winter said he still expects his client will be traded.
"We know it can happen," Winter said. "We don't know when it will happen."
Sykora is a proven scorer with 207 goals in his 10-year career. But the left wing has struggled this season and Duck management has been so dissatisfied with his performance that he has been put on the trading block.
General Manager Brian Burke, at home with wife Jennifer and their newborn daughter, has said he won't comment on trade rumors. It is known that he was working on a deal Thursday night and had Sykora pulled out of the lineup against the Buffalo Sabres.
Sykora will make $3.116 million in the final year of a three-year contract. He will be an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Winter said the 10-year veteran is merely biding his time until a move is made and suggested that he doesn't fit the type of player Duck Coach Randy Carlyle wants.
"He's going to handle it like a professional," Winter said. "He's going to do everything possible under the circumstances he's in, where a coach doesn't want you on his roster."
Several teams are reportedly interested in the forward, including Boston, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa and the New York Rangers.
"He's excited that there are teams so interested in him," Winter said. "The guy is a great player. He will be a great player again on another team."
For now, Sykora and Carlyle met recently to discuss his role. Carlyle put him on a line with Andy McDonald and Teemu Selanne and the three accounted for six points against Montreal.
"It's a give-and-take situation," Carlyle said. "He feels that I have not given him enough of an opportunity. He voiced his opinion on that. We had a meeting about it.
"Anytime you feel like you have a player that you haven't utilized him to where he historically has played, I think it's my duty to show the respect to the veteran to give him every opportunity to prove himself."
Said Sykora: "All I can do is just show up every day and try to do my best."
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere said he still gets nervous whenever he returns to play in his native Montreal. But with pucks flying at him at speeds of over 100 mph, he said it's easy to block out extra emotions.
"You kind of have to forget where you are playing and just play your game," Giguere said. "My job is the same anywhere we go. That's the fortunate thing with being a goalie. You have one simple job and that's to make saves." Giguere, who won for the first time in his hometown, said former coach Mike Babcock would make sure that the goalie's father would be in attendance as a nice gesture and perhaps use as a motivational tool.
Claude Giguere was at Bell Centre on Saturday night to watch his son beat the Canadiens.
"Babcock felt at the time that having your dad around made you play better," he said. "You always want to play well in front of your dad."
Summary: Petr was going to be traded on Thursday, but then Brian Burke's wife inconveniently decided to have her baby just then. He's excited that Boston, Florida, Montreal, Ottawa and the New York Rangers are interested in him. He whined to his coach to put him on a scoring line. Babcock used to "make sure" that Giguere's dad was at the game when they played in Montreal.
On Block, Sykora Lifts Ducks
# Amid trade talks, the forward has a goal and assist in a 5-3 win. Anaheim breaks seven-year spell in Montreal.
By Eric Stephens, Times Staff Writer
MONTREAL — Petr Sykora may not be with the Mighty Ducks for long, but he may have found his game while they still have him.
The veteran forward has been shopped in the last few days but put his shaky status aside to score a goal and add an assist Saturday night in sparking the Ducks to a 5-3 victory over the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.
It has been a tumultuous week for Sykora in a difficult season. A six-time 20-goal scorer, the left wing had four goals coming into the game and was held out of Thursday's loss to Buffalo while General Manager Brian Burke worked on a trade.
At the moment, the Ducks are happy that nothing was accomplished.
"I don't know what his situation is but he came out there and was determined to make something happen tonight," captain Scott Niedermayer said. "Hopefully we can all play like that."
Sykora met with Coach Randy Carlyle to clarify his status and the two agreed that he should be put on a scoring line with center Andy McDonald and right wing Teemu Selanne.
The Ducks (13-12-5) got the desired effect against Montreal, which had a week of rest. The trio accounted for six points. McDonald and Selanne each had two assists.
"You have to have all three guys on the same page," Sykora said. "When you play with two players like Mac and Teemu, it's so much easier to create scoring chances and get yourself some scoring chances."
Said Carlyle: "That's exactly the response we're looking for."
The Ducks stunned a sellout crowd of 21,273 with three goals in the first period. The checking line of Tyler Wright, Todd Fedoruk and Zenon Konopka provided the first goal when rookie Konopka scored off a feed from Wright.
Montreal's Richard Zednik tied the score, but Sykora, who missed five games last month with a groin injury, followed with his first goal since Oct. 28 when he put in a rebound past Jose Theodore after the goalie stopped McDonald.
"It doesn't really look like it, but that was one of the bigger goals I've scored," Sykora said. "At least it feels like it."
Ruslan Salei made the score 3-1 with his first goal of the season on a slap shot from in front of the blue line off another rebound allowed by Theodore. Jonathan Hedstrom and Rob Niedermayer also scored to help goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere win for the first time in three starts in his hometown.
Giguere, who bought a suite for members of his family to watch the game, made 21 saves and the Ducks won in Montreal for the first time in seven years.
"It's very special," he said. "It's not easy to win here. They've got a good team here. I'm real happy with how the guys played tonight."
The Ducks, who pulled to within one point of third-place Phoenix, have gotten three points on a three-game trip that concludes Monday in Toronto.
And as far as he knows, Sykora will continue to be a part of the trip.
"I can't control these things … " he said. "What I'm looking for is to be in Toronto as a Mighty Duck. That's how I have to look at it."
Summary: His teammates love him very much and all want to jump his bones.
[Edit: More snippets.
Could the trade talk surrounding Petr Sykora and the benching of the left wing last Thursday against Buffalo have been a ploy to light a fire under the veteran? Carlyle suggested as much after Sunday's practice.
Sykora had a goal and an assist in Saturday's 5-3 victory in Montreal after scoring one point in the last nine he played in. He also sat out five other games with a groin strain.
"The thing is that's the only thing that as a coach you have is minutes and ice time," Carlyle said. "As a coach, I feel that's the most dramatic thing that you can do."]