Healthy Scratch Has Sykora Thinking
By Eric Stephens, Times Staff Writer
ST. PAUL, Minn. — Even when his name swirled in trade rumors earlier in the season, Petr Sykora held out hope that it would work out in Anaheim.
But after being a healthy scratch in Saturday night's 4-1 loss to the Minnesota Wild, Sykora's thinking has changed as the move sparked further speculation that he will be dealt provided the right offer comes along.
Sykora, in the midst of a disappointing season, was held out of the lineup under orders from General Manager Brian Burke and senior vice president Bob Murray. Burke would not comment on whether a trade was in the works but did say Sykora wasn't scratched because of his performance.
When asked if he would welcome a change of scenery, Sykora said, "I would not be against it."
Moving Sykora while he has some trade value before the March 9 deadline would seem to be the Ducks' objective rather than getting nothing in return as the 29-year-old left wing is making $3.116 million in the final year of a three-year contract and doesn't figure to be re-signed.
It is the second time this season that Sykora, a six-time 20-goal scorer, has been held out of the lineup because of a decision by management.
"This is the first time I've been in this position," Sykora said from the press box at the Xcel Energy Center. "I just take it day by day."
After being scratched on Dec. 8 against Buffalo, Sykora went to Coach Randy Carlyle and discussed his role with the team. Carlyle accommodated the veteran by putting him on a scoring line with center Andy McDonald and right wing Teemu Selanne.
The trio produced eight goals and 14 assists over a seven-game stretch. However, Sykora has just seven goals this season after leading them with 34 in 2002-03, his first year with the team after leaving the New Jersey Devils.
Another sign of his difficult season occurred Friday night against Dallas when Carlyle took him off the power play and the forward played a season-low nine minutes, nine seconds.
Although it appears their relationship is strained, Sykora would not say if he and Carlyle are at odds.
"You know, I never in my career discuss my relationship with coaches," he said. "I'm not going to start. I've always respected the Ducks and Randy. I'll never say anything publicly about anybody."
Carlyle said that he merely wanted to infuse some energy on a power play that had been struggling of late.
"We decided we were going to go with [Joffrey] Lupul, Selanne and McDonald," the coach said. "That really was the difference in his minutes. Our power play was struggling so we just decided to go with a different look. We scored two goals last night on it."
I love that headline. As if Petr wasn't thinking at all before that, hahaha!
Ducks again lapse into bad habits
As happened Friday vs. Dallas, defensive breakdowns lead to goals against.
By DAN WOOD
The Orange County Register
For the second time in a month, Ducks general manager Brian Burke confirmed, he instructed Carlyle to hold Sykora out of the lineup.
The idea is to avoid any potential injury that could short-circuit an apparently possible trade.
Sykora, who received the same treatment Dec. 8 in Buffalo, is ready to escape limbo.
"I would not be against it," he said while watching Saturday's game from the press box. "You never want to leave the situation you're in, but I feel it might be better for me to go somewhere else."
After no deal eventuated last month, Carlyle moved Sykora onto the first line with Selanne and McDonald, and shifted Sykora up front from his previous point position on the power play. Sykora responded with three goals and nine points in 10 games before being taken off the top power-play unit and playing only nine minutes, nine seconds Friday against the Stars.
"When I got the chance to play, I felt I played pretty good," Sykora said. "I felt on a line with Teemu and Mac, we had something going. All of a sudden, I get taken off the power play, and played nine minutes. I can't explain that."
Carlyle inserted Joffrey Lupul in Sykora's place on the power play, and cited that as the sole reason for Sykora's limited ice time in Dallas.
"We just felt our power play had been struggling, and decided to go with a different look," Carlyle said.
Meaning, he's going to miss watching women in bikinis frolicking at the beach.
Sykora traded to Rangers
A minor-league defenseman is shipped to the Ducks in a deal partly motivated by finances.
By DAN WOOD
The Orange County Register
The Ducks shipped winger Petr Sykora to the New York Rangers for minor-leaguer Maxim Kondratiev.
ANAHEIM – Mighty Ducks general manager Brian Burke on Sunday pulled the trigger on a long-awaited trade involving Petr Sykora, swapping the struggling winger to the New York Rangers in a deal for minor-league defenseman Maxim Kondratiev.
Just as was the case in the Nov. 15 trade that sent center Sergei Fedorov to the Columbus Blue Jackets, motivation behind the latest Ducks move was financial as well as hockey-related.
Even with Sunday's recall of high-priced rookie forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry from American League affiliate Portland, Maine, shedding Sykora's $3.116 million salary lowered the club's salary-cap figure to approximately $34.4 million, more than $4.5 million less than the NHL limit.
"It's the second time we've moved money, and we still have not reinvested the money from the first deal," Burke said. "Season-ticket holders are going to question it. The answer is very simple. We budgeted to spend to the cap, and that's still my intent. We have not adjusted our budget to reflect a lower payroll.
"Our opportunities to spend money to this point in time were limited to deals that didn't make sense from a hockey perspective. If we can spend the money sensibly, I'm going to, but I'm not going to throw it away."
In exchange for Kondratiev, the Ducks also parted with a fourth-round selection in the 2007 entry draft they had acquired in an Aug.23 trade that sent center Steve Rucchin to New York. The Ducks still will get a 2007 pick, perhaps as high as a third-rounder, if the Rangers re-sign Rucchin this summer, Burke said.
While the Ducks assigned Kondratiev to Portland, club officials view the Togliatti, Russia, product as a potential top-four defenseman.
Kondratiev, 22, was scoreless in seven games with the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2003-04 before going to New York in a trade for veteran defenseman Brian Leetch. Before being assigned to Hartford of the AHL a week ago, the 6-foot-1, 194-pound Kondratiev played in 29 games with the Rangers this season, collecting a goal, three assists and 22 penalty minutes.
Burke had been attempting to trade Sykora since November. Believing a deal was imminent, the Ducks held Sykora out of the lineup Dec. 8 in Buffalo, and did the same thing Saturday at Minnesota.
In between, Coach Randy Carlyle inserted Sykora onto the club's top line, and Sykora responded with three goals and nine points in 10 games before being taken off the first power-play unit and playing only 9:09 Friday in Dallas.
"It's about where you fit on a hockey team, and I didn't fit here," Sykora said before boarding a flight to New York. "I'm happy it's done. Things weren't going great here. It was the best thing for me to get out of here."
Sykora, whom the Ducks acquired from the New Jersey Devils in 2002, had seven goals and 20 points in 34 games this season. At 29, he stands to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
He forgot to add, "Muahahahaha, so long, suckers! I'm off to reunite with my Czech idols!!! Whee!!!"
Ducks Deal Sykora for a Defenseman
# Anaheim sends the struggling forward to New York Rangers for 22-year-old Kondratiev.
By Eric Stephens, Times Staff Writer
Mighty Duck forward Petr Sykora, who had two of the franchise's most important goals during a Stanley Cup run three years ago but who struggled to score this season, was traded to the New York Rangers on Sunday for young defenseman Maxim Kondratiev.
The 29-year-old native of the Czech Republic is having one of the worst seasons of his 10-year NHL career, with only seven goals and 20 points in 34 games. General Manager Brian Burke said he wasn't comfortable with paying Sykora nearly $1.6 million the remainder of the season for little production.
Sykora is in the final year of a three-year contract that will play him $3.116 million this season. He will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.
"I can't be concerned about what players have done in the past," Burke said. "Fairly or unfairly, this business is about what have you done for me lately. The goal output didn't match what was expected of that salary. Those are expensive goals."
The Rangers also will get back the fourth-round pick the Ducks received when they traded former captain Steve Rucchin to New York in August.
Kondratiev, 22, has shuttled between the Rangers and their minor league team in Hartford, Conn., this season. He had one goal and three assists in 29 games with the Rangers. On Sunday, he reported to the Ducks' American Hockey League affiliate in Portland, Maine.
If Kondratiev is recalled to the Ducks, he will earn an NHL salary of $627,000.
"We see him as a top-four defenseman," Burke said. "He can be a 24- to 28-minute guy when he's done developing."
But the trade of Sykora also seemed to signal another move primarily made for salary-cap reasons, much like the trade of center Sergei Fedorov in November. After the Ducks recalled rookie forwards Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry, their payroll sits at about $34 million, $5 million under the cap.
Aware of his previous statements that he would reinvest the money saved from the Fedorov trade, Burke said that he was not finished tinkering with the roster and added that the team has not given up on the season.
The Ducks have been a disappointment to date with an 18-16-7 record, which puts them six points behind eighth-place Colorado in the Western Conference. What they do in the next few weeks before the two-week Olympic break may determine whether they are a buyer or a seller at the March 9 trade deadline.
"I'll deal if the deal makes sense," Burke said. "We have inquired about players that'll increase our payroll. We just haven't been able to put those deals together."
Sykora appeared to fall out of favor with Burke and first-year Coach Randy Carlyle this season. The team seemed to be close to trading him in December, but rumored trades with the Rangers and the Boston Bruins fell through.
Carlyle put Sykora on the top line with center Andy McDonald and Teemu Selanne, but he was pulled off the power-play unit Friday against Dallas and played a season-low nine minutes.
"Obviously he felt that he should be given more of an opportunity to do what he does best," Carlyle said.
"We obviously didn't agree that he fit into that for us. He did respond for a short period of time. Other than that, we have made decisions that impacted his minutes and he didn't like it. You go forward."
Sykora figures to be a good fit with the Rangers, who have been looking to upgrade their offense for a playoff run.
"I'm just looking for a fresh start," Sykora said. "I get a chance to play. Basically I just have a half a season left."
Sykora's goal in the fifth overtime of Game 1 of the 2003 Western Conference semifinals against Dallas ended the fourth-longest game in Stanley Cup playoff history. He followed that up with a game-winning overtime goal in Game 1 against Minnesota in the conference finals.
I'm killing myself laughing at the idea of Petr having a heated exchange with Carlyle. Really, how could he be agressive? Sic his chinchilla on him? *sigh* And the blossom of Petr/Andy "Mac! He calls him Mac!" love, squelched and stomped upon. I would have been sad before, but since SDQ has converted me to evil, I just cackle with glee.
BLUESHIRTS GET SYKORA FROM DUCKS
By LARRY BROOKS
January 9, 2006 -- This is the kind of trade made by a general manager whose team exceeds expectations over the first half of the season and whose organization contains enough prospects that some become expendable in an accelerated process of development and winning.
This is what getting winger Petr Sykora from Anaheim in exchange for defenseman Maxim Kondratiev as Glen Sather did yesterday in consummating a deal for the talented 29-year-old sniper that the Rangers have been pursuing for nearly a month — as first reported by The Post on Dec. 12 — represents.
The Post has learned that the winger, who grew up in Martin Straka's hometown of Plzen in the Czech Republic and lists No. 82 as his idol in his Anaheim media-guide bio, phoned Sather on Dec. 10 (with Anaheim GM Brian Burke's permission) to inform the GM that he wanted to come to New York. That was the night assistant GM Don Maloney was dispatched to Montreal to watch Sykora against the Canadiens.
Coincidence or not, Sykora has registered nine points (3-6) in 11 games beginning that night, giving him a total of 20 points (7-13) in 34 games playing for a first-year coach in Randy Carlyle who took an immediate dislike to him.
The Rangers yesterday became much better and they became that much more dangerous in adding a legitimate top-six forward who not only bolsters their credibility on the attack, but allows Tom Renney to move Steve Rucchin into a more appropriate checking role.
Straka will center the first line with Jaromir Jagr on his right and either Martin Rucinsky or Petr Prucha on the left. Sykora, who has scored 25 or more goals in four of his eight full NHL seasons and at least 20 in another two — and who is deadly working on the power play either from down low or from the point — will play right wing on a line centered by Michael Nylander with either Prucha on Rucinsky on the left.
And with Blair Betts out through the Olympic break with a left knee injury he sustained early in Saturday's 4-0 victory over the Panthers, Rucchin can slide between Ville Niemenen and Jason Ward.
Make no mistake. This trade does not represent an abandonment of the youth program the Rangers embarked on at the 2004 trade deadline and has been implemented so successfully this season by Renney and his staff.
Rather, it indicates that the hockey department believes other young defensemen have surpassed Kondratiev, who played 24 games with the Blueshirts before being assigned to Hartford last week.
Sykora, meanwhile, is operating on the final year of a contract under which he's earning $3.116M — the Rangers will take a cap charge of $1,507,196, leaving them approximately $4M in space — and can become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Petr squared on a line? Hee, that would be so cute! Also, Marty Straka his idol! Who is 4 years older than him! That will never cease to amuse me.