Toronto Loses Sundin to Broken Ankle
TORONTO (AP) _ The Toronto Maple Leafs will discover over the next six weeks just what kind of a team they really are.
The Maple Leafs, who started this year with three straight wins after making it to the conference finals last season, have lost team captain Mats Sundin with a broken right ankle. The veteran center was injured Saturday in a game against Ottawa and is expected to be gone for at least 1 1/2 months.
The team got the news on Monday shortly before wasting a 2-1 third-period lead en route to a 4-2 loss to the previously winless Nashville Predators.
Linemate Steve Thomas called the injury a ``big loss″ to the Maple Leafs.
``He’s one of the best players in the world,″ Thomas said. ``Each and every guy is going to have to put out an effort like they never have.″
Coach-general manager Pat Quinn echoed that sentiment.
``We know he’s our best player, but we still have to play the games. Hopefully, we’ll still be a very competitive hockey club.″
Quinn said Nikolai Antropov, the Maple Leafs’ No. 1 pick in the 1998 draft, will be called up from St. John’s of the AHL.
``We may as well give him a try,″ Quinn said. ``He played a lot with Thomas (in pre-season) so that may be a real possibility.″
Todd Warriner filled in for Sundin on the Maple Leafs’ top line on Monday.
Sundin, who was leading the Maple Leafs in scoring with three goals and four assists, was hopeful he would be back in action sooner than six weeks.
``Worst case, I guess it’s six weeks,″ Sundin said. ``I hope it’s shorter. I’ll be able to work out. I rode the bike (Monday) morning and that didn’t bother me.
``If there had been any movement in the leg immediately after the injury, they would have had to do surgery. I think I’ve been fortunate. I haven’t had any bad injuries, so I hope this is the one time it happens.″
Maple Leafs team physician Dr. Michael Clarfield said Sundin shouldn’t have any difficulty in recovering from the injury.
``There’s no other ligament damaged and (the ankle) is not swollen, so we think he’ll come back in good shape,″ Clarfield said.
Sundin, 28, was injured when he took a shot off the ankle.
``I’m surprised by it,″ he said. ``It was on a 3-on-2 and (Magnus) Arvedsson was going wide and I went wide with him. He dropped a pass and I stopped. I think it was (Marian) Hossa, who took a one-timer.″
It was initially thought Sundin had only bruised the foot, but he couldn’t practice Sunday because of the pain and had a series of X-rays Monday that revealed the undisplaced fracture.
The injury ended Sundin’s 259-game played streak, which had been the second-longest active streak in the NHL.
``There’s a first for everybody. I’ve been fortunate in my career not to get hurt so we’ll have to see.″