Lemieux Not Ready to Return
Dec. 14, 2001
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PITTSBURGH (AP) _ Mario Lemieux isn't any closer to returning to the ice than he was a week ago.
Lemieux, the Pittsburgh Penguins owner-player who has appeared in only three games since having arthroscopic hip surgery Oct. 29, planned to re-evaluate his status Friday.
But with his hip still hurting and his doctors telling him to hold off, he has no immediate plans to resume practicing.
``Things are not going well,'' said Charles Burke, the Penguins' team physician. ``He's still having some pain. He's obviously somewhat better, but not better enough for him _ certainly, not better enough to work out and play.''
Lemieux has been cleared to exercise, but cannot do anything that would cause further discomfort.
``He can't play with the pain he's currently having,'' Burke told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. ``Until that gets better, he can't play. I don't know when he'll get better.''
Lemieux told Burke he feels ``60 to 70 percent'' better after resting the hip for two weeks. But Burke, who is an orthopedic surgeon, said that is not improvement enough to resume practicing when Lemieux is still in pain.
``He's not too happy,'' Burke said. ``He doesn't want to sit anymore. I told him, `You can't work out. That's what brought your pain on.'''
Burke added, ``He wants to play and he wants the pain to be gone. I think he's frustrated that it isn't.''
For now, Lemieux and his doctors will try find out why the pain has persisted and address it before he returns to practice.
Burke said the problem is not career-threatening, even though Lemieux was retired for 44 months before returning to play last December.
``I would think it's premature, especially in his case, to start thinking about that,'' Burke said. ``This has only gone on for a few months.''