Mighty Ducks no help to Baltimore with their maneuvers on McSween

Bandits notebook

January 20, 1996|By Phil Jackman | Phil Jackman,SUN STAFF

Uh-oh. The Bandits were all enthused about getting off to a good start in the second half of the AHL season in Hershey tonight when word came down that defenseman Don McSween had been recalled by Anaheim. The Mighty Ducks immediately placed McSween on the injured list.

Figure that one out: Whisking a player from a team with which he'd taken a regular shift and played well through five games of rehabilitation after not playing for a year, to practice and observe games in California.

Baltimore's defense is already stretched as thin as piano wire since the end of Doug Crossman's 25-game contract a couple of weeks ago, but the club will be going with what it has for the next few games.

"We figure to get a guy from Anaheim after the NHL All-Star break," said coach Walt Kyle.

Rejoining the Bandits after a sojourn with the Ducks will be Steve King, who becomes part of an attack line with Slava Butsayev and Pete Leboutillier.

King's return eases the pressure resulting from the six-game suspension of wing Jeremy Stevenson, who left the bench to fight a while back. Denny Lambert is skating with Sean Pronger and Craig Reichert on the team's second line.

After a coaching change Dec. 30 -- Bill Barber, director of scouting for the parent Philadelphia Flyers, replaced Jay Leach -- Hershey won just one of its first five games. Lately, it is 3-0-1, however, and again pressing Binghamton for the lead in the AHL's Southern Division.

Indisputable progress

Although the Bandits still were under .500 after half of their 80 games (17-20-3), the team hasn't had a losing 10-game stretch since its awful 1-8-1 start.

From Day 1, Kyle has emphasized that this "is a developmental situation and, as such, the objective is not only to improve as a team during each 10-game segment but for each player to improve his individual skills and fundamentals.

With marks of 5-4-1, 5-5 and 6-3-1 in Games 11 through 40, the Bandits have improved dramatically, particularly on the road. Most players have honed their skills and become more consistent, although some have indicated the AHL is above their current skill levels.

All things considered, the coach says, he's satisfied with the team's progress.

Something for everyone

About the only thing missing when the Bandits play the Portland Pirates here tomorrow (5 p.m.) is a "guaranteed win" promotion. Starting at 1 p.m., there will be a sports card show, the 18-wheel AHL Legends hockey museum truck will be on hand, the first 500 kids 12 and under will get a megaphone, there will be a drawing for trips, clothing and other paraphernalia and five persons will be treated to a free haircut.

Maybe the reason the club isn't willing to guarantee a win (or pass out free tickets to a future game) is it has been less than competitive while losing four Sunday matinees by a combined 23-12.

Bandits tonight

Opponent: Hershey Bears

Site: Hersheypark Arena, Hershey, Pa.

Time: 7:30

Radio: WITH (1230 AM), WAMD (970 AM)

Outlook: The Bandits enter the game unbeaten in their past five games (3-0-2) and the Bears unbeaten in four (3-0-1). Baltimore has crept within two points of Hershey for the second spot in the Southern Division, but incentive is rarely needed in this big city vs. small town rivalry. The Bandits have Steve King back from Anaheim, which is timely; they needed another attacking wing because Jeremy Stevenson is in the middle of a six-game suspension. D Aris Brimanis and D Darren Rumble are back with the Bears after stints with the Flyers.

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