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Injuries hurting Leafs

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - Things keep getting worse on the Toronto Maple Leafs' injury front.

On Wednesday it was announced that Dmitry Yushkevich would be out for the rest of the regular season and playoffs because of the health risks surrounding the blood clot he suffered on February 5 against the Minnesota Wild. Yushkevich is on blood thinners and isn't allowed to play contact sports.

"This could be my life on the line," Yushkevich told Sportsnet last night after saying he had consulted a final time with doctors. "I have to think of my career and my family. I can play hockey for a few more years. I'll be ready to go (to training camp) in September."

More bad news came for Alexander Mogilny when it was learned he will be out another couple of weeks with his lower back injury. The speedy Russian was thrown into the boards on January 29 while playing the San Jose Sharks. He has missed the Leafs last six games.

"The second MRI we had done has shown a little bit of a crack in one of the vertebrae," head coach Pat Quinn said. "It was deep, but not serious in the sense of being displaced."

The goods news is that when Mogilny is feeling up to it he could play without further risking the vertebrae.

"I don't know (if full healing of the crack is required), but what they (doctors) have said is he can play right away without danger if he can stand the pain. Certainly there's pain and discomfort now. He has said he can tell (the pain threshold) in his practices. He has said he's up to about 70%. But if you play with that sort of injury, you put yourself at risk for other injuries. We don't want to expose him to that."

Those two announcements come on the heels of Curtis Joseph breaking a bone in his hand Tuesday night against the Carolina Hurricanes. Cujo is expected to miss four to six weeks but the Leafs training staff will be using an ultrasound-like treatment that could speed up the healing process.

Corey Schwab will get the start Friday night against the New Jersey Devils (7:30 pm, New VR, Mojo 640).

"Corey's got to concentrate on stopping the puck and he can do that," Quinn said. "He's a veteran. Now he has to play like a veteran. We just have to hope our guys feel confident in front of him."

Unfortunately the Leafs coaching staff isn't immune to health issues either. Assistant coach Keith Acton announced that he was going to be under radiation treatments for testicular cancer over the next six weeks.

Acton left the team last month when he learned of the condition but didn't want to make a formal announcement until he knew the facts.

"I can tell you no one is immune from these types of situations. I'm relatively young, in decent shape, no health problems, no family history (of cancer) on either side, and I was able to run five miles a day up until the day I was diagnosed. And I have it.

Acton encourages men to get to the doctor for regular checkups.

"If you suspect you have any type of problem, get to the doctor right away. It doesn't matter if you go tomorrow, six months or 12 months from now. If it happens to be a problem, you're going to wish you went to the doctor on the very first day. Early detection is the key. Just having a regular medical checkup would be a start."
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