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Yushkevich out indefinitely

by Staff Writer / Toronto Maple Leafs
by John McCauley

TORONTO - The Toronto Maple Leafs have avoided costly injuries for the most part this season but that impenetrable armour seems to be losing its strength.

Dmitry Yushkevich is suffering from a blood clot in his calf and knee, which started just before Tuesday's win over the Minnesota Wild. As was first reported on Leafs TV, he will be out of the lineup for an indefinite period of time.

"We don't know at this point how long it's going to be," head coach Pat Quinn told Leafs TV during Thursday morning's live game-day coverage. "We just heard yesterday afternoon that he would be out while this serious situation is treated."

Yushkevich had considerable swelling in his knee area after the game but he was left alone to see if it would clear itself up by morning. The condition remained and tests then confirmed the clot, which was progressively moving up his leg.

Despite the seriousness of the injury, Yushkevich is expected to make a full recovery. The condition can be life threatening if treatment isn't given. A specialist looked at the injury Wednesday afternoon but no information is known about that diagnosis at this time.

The durable defenceman isn't expected to play for Team Russia during next week's Olympic tournament but considering the Leafs have just four more games in February his NHL absence could be minimal.

Yushkevich has always been a workhorse for the Leafs playing in 70 or more games the past five seasons. His ability to block out pain, as was evident when he took a puck off the cheek earlier this season, should have him back sooner rather than later.

Combine the loss of Yushkevich with that of Alexander Mogilny and it seems the Leafs are in the middle of tough stretch. But news that Nik Antropov has a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) makes the mounting injuries seem like a full-fledged epidemic.

For Antropov this will be his second major knee surgery before the age of 22 and could seriously hurt his future in hockey. It isn't known when he will have the surgery.

The injuries to the Yushkevich and Antropov hurt the team two-fold.

Not only do the Leafs lose their best defenceman but also they lose the ability to trade for depth at the deadline. Most trade rumours center around the potential of Antropov and his loss doesn't give Toronto many options other than trading talent for talent.

"We have people clamoring for us to add to our roster now and Yushkevich being out will fuel that but you have to have the ammunition (to get a deal done)," Quinn said.

"Without giving up draft picks at this point or someone off our roster right now, we might not have the depth to add, certainly the quality Yushky is for us."

Nathan Dempsey was recalled to take Yushkevich's place on the blue line and will be in the lineup against the New York Islanders on Thursday night.

This is the chance Dempsey has been waiting for all season. Heading into the season he was tentatively slated as the Leafs seventh man on defence but after a poor camp he found himself on "the Rock".

Jeff Farkas was called up to replace Mogilny on the roster and will be in the lineup on Long Island. He was supposed to be with the team for the Minnesota game but poor weather kept him from joining the team.
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