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Hip puts out Lemieux for season

By Associated Press
Published January 7, 2004

PITTSBURGH - Mario Lemieux will miss the rest of the season after hip surgery next week, but he doesn't plan to retire.

The six-time NHL scoring leader and two-time Stanley Cup champion hasn't played for the Penguins since injuring his left hip Nov. 1 against Boston.

Lemieux has tried therapy and rehabilitation, but an MRI test performed Tuesday showed no improvement. Lemieux, who also owns the Penguins, will have arthroscopic surgery Tuesday.

"I was optimistic that the injury would heal, and I was hoping to get back in the lineup," Lemieux said. "It is disappointing that I won't have a chance to return to the ice this season, but I look forward to coming back next year."

Lemieux is experiencing ongoing pain because of tendinitis in his left hip flexor muscle, team doctor Charles Burke said. The surgery will remove damaged labrum, the ligament-like cartilage that contains nerves and lines the hip socket, and repair a tendon.

This is the third time in as many seasons Lemieux has been sidelined by injury, and one of a score of such layoffs in his remarkable but oft-interrupted career that saw him sit out the 1994-95 season and retire for 44 months.

Lemieux, 38, missed most of the 2001-02 season with a right hip injury that also required surgery. Lemieux had that operation shortly before helping Canada win its first Olympic gold medal in hockey in 50 years.

He returned to lead the NHL in scoring for most of the 2002-03 season, only to finish eighth with 91 points in 67 games after sitting out nearly a month with a sore groin. He did not score a goal in his final nine games after a series of trades left him with inexperienced linemates.

This season Lemieux injured his left hip three days after becoming the sixth player to reach 1,700 points. He had one goal and eight assists in 10 games and had an eight-game scoring streak before the injury.

The Hall of Famer said in a statement released by the team his ability to bounce back quickly from the right hip operation is one reason he plans to play again.

"The encouraging thing for me is that the surgery in 2001 was successful, and I have had no problems since then with my right hip," he said.

With no real scoring threats and a threadbare, mostly young lineup, the Penguins are unlikely to dramatically improve.

FLYERS: Center Jeremy Roenick, struck in the right cheekbone by a slap shot in practice, is not expected to miss any games. Roenick collapsed and lay motionless while blood poured from a cut that required an estimated 26 stitches. Eventually he skated off the ice with assistance. X-rays revealed no fractures. Roenick made the team's flight to Buffalo for tonight's game, and coach Ken Hitchcock thinks he will play.

SENATORS: Forward Vaclav Varada will have surgery Thursday to repair a knee ligament and miss the rest of the season. He tore his left anterior cruciate ligament Dec. 13 against the Bruins.

Tuesday's games

MAPLE LEAFS 2, PREDATORS 1: Bryan McCabe scored twice in the third period to rally host Toronto. Mats Sundin assisted on both goals for the Maple Leafs, who have won consecutive games after a four-game winless skid. Toronto won for the first time after trailing after two periods, and Nashville lost for the first time when leading after 40 minutes.

CANADIENS 3, SABRES 1: Jose Theodore made 34 saves and Pierre Dagenais, Saku Koivu and Mike Ribeiro scored for host Montreal. Theodore stopped Jochen Hecht on a short-handed breakaway midway through the third period and made another pad save on Hecht in the period to help Montreal extend its winning streak to three games, tying a season high set from Oct. 11-16.

FLAMES 3, ISLANDERS 2: Jarome Iginla had two goals and an assist as Calgary stretched its road streak to six wins and snapped New York's home streak at seven. Calgary won road games in New York on consecutive nights: The Flames beat the Rangers 5-0 on Monday.

HURRICANES 2, BLUES 0: Former Lightning goalie Kevin Weekes made 19 saves, and Danny Markov and Kevyn Adams provided the offense for host Carolina. Weekes' fifth shutout of the season helped the Hurricanes snap a three-game losing streak.

AVALANCHE 6, BLUE JACKETS 0: Paul Kariya returned after nearly a two-month absence and scored a second-period goal to help host Colorado win its fourth straight. David Aebischer had 35 saves to post his ninth career shutout. Kariya, out since Nov. 15 because of a sprained right wrist, scored the last of four Colorado goals in the second period. ... Columbus center Mark Hartigan was recalled from AHL Syracuse for the game.

[Last modified January 7, 2004, 01:33:45]


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