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Komisarek likely to miss Olympics

by Shawn P. Roarke
Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Mike Komisarek will almost certainly not be a part of the Team USA lineup for the 2010 Olympics after receiving bad news from the doctors on Saturday.

Komisarek, out since Jan. 2 with a shoulder injury, was hoping to get clearance to begin physical contact when he went to his check-up Saturday. Instead, he was told he must wait at least another week as the shoulder continues to heal.

Team USA boss Brian Burke, who also happens to be the GM in Toronto, had said that Komisarek would have to get five NHL games under his belt before the Olympics to be a viable candidate to play in the tournament.

If Komisarek is able to return next Saturday -- by no means a given -- the Leafs will have just two games remaining before the Olympic Break.

"It's definitely in the back of your mind," Komisarek told reporters Saturday morning. "But my priority, my obligation, my responsibility is first and foremost to the Leafs and that's my goal and objective to come back for them.

"The Olympics is a huge honor and privilege, but I'm here to help the (Maple Leafs), so obviously if I don't come back and play with the Leafs I'm not going to be going to Vancouver. In the back of my mind, that hour glass is definitely ticking, but I'm not losing track of the present and doing what I have to do to get back."

The American blue line is in shambles just two weeks before the start of the tournament.

Not only is Komisarek, the team's most physical defenseman on the shelf, but New Jersey's Paul Martin is losing his race against time to return from a broken arm. Martin, out since Oct. 24, is Team USA's best puck mover.

Los Angeles defenseman Jack Johnson missed Saturday's win against Boston with an upper-body injury, but is expected back before the Olympics. In St. Louis, young defenseman Erik Johnson has been inconsistent to the point of being a healthy scratch last month. He was also an injury scratch earlier this week, although he returned to play 20-plus minutes in Saturday's loss to Columbus.

Burke and Team USA coach Ron Wilson, also the coach in Toronto, have until Feb. 15 to decide on the final look of their blue line. Injury replacements can be made until that day, but no replacements -- for any reason -- can be made after that date.

Carolina's Tim Gleason, Atlanta’s Ron Hainsey, Anaheim's Ryan Whitney and, perhaps, Pittsburgh's Alex Goligoski are the top candidates to bolster the American blue line. 
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