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Good News Comes in Pairs

by Staff Writer / Anaheim Ducks

By Matt Vevoda

One day after getting back to the .500 mark with a thrilling shootout victory over rival Los Angeles, the Ducks continued to remain upbeat Wednesday with a double dose of good news.

First, the Ducks (8-8-3) received word that Chris Pronger’s suspension from an instigating call against the Kings was rescinded by the NHL. Then, the team’s lone injured player, Todd Bertuzzi (concussion), returned to practice and participated in non-contact drills for over 30 minutes.

Pronger seemed destined to serve a one-game suspension that automatically comes with receiving an instigating minor in the final five minutes of a game, which the Ducks captain was called for during a scuffle with the Kings’ Michal Handzus at the end of overtime in Tuesday’s game. After careful review, the league reversed its decision and will allow Pronger to play against the Kings at Staples Center on Thursday.

“The video doesn’t lie,” Ducks coach Randy Carlyle said. “When two players are engaging in pushing and shoving and then they start into a fight, I don’t see where it’s an instigator penalty.”

All along, Pronger said he felt that once the league looked at the tape, he would be exonerated.

“He started throwing first, so I didn’t think I’d get an instigator penalty,” Pronger said. “When I heard about it after the game, I was a little shocked. It’s not like I went straight out there, dropped my gloves and started fighting him. To the league’s credit, they reviewed it pretty quickly and came up with the decision rather expediently.”

As for Bertuzzi, who has only played seven games with the Ducks so far this season, coming back from a concussion (suffered on a hit by Minnesota’s Derek Boogaard on Oct. 14) has been a slower process, as Wednesday marked the first time the right winger has practiced with the team since the injury.

“Today was probably the biggest step to get him out on the ice and participate in some of the shooting drills,” said Carlyle after Wednesday’s practice. “It’s encouraging but there’s no real timeframe set on his return yet.”

Just getting back out on the ice with his teammates for practice was a thrill in itself for Bertuzzi, who said he’s been feeling decent for the past four days.

“It’s not fun skating on your own,” Bertuzzi said. “When you get an opportunity to go back out, skate around there and get more involved, it’s more enjoyable. You get a better mindset coming in the next day.”

Bertuzzi said he’s taking things day-to-day and hopes that Wednesday’s practice is the first step in returning to the Ducks lineup.

“I’m just introducing myself back and doing as much as I can,” Bertuzzi said. “We’ll see how I feel Thursday morning when I wake up. If nothing goes wrong, then I’ll come back at it again in practice and skate a little bit harder. We’ll see where it takes us the next couple of days and hopefully it keeps going well.”

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