Lightning captain delaying operation

Tim Taylor will need career-threatening hip surgery this summer.

Published January 11, 2007

TAMPA - Tim Taylor woke up Wednesday feeling better than he had in weeks, the slow-release cortisone shot for his ailing right hip starting to take effect.

But the Lightning captain still faces the strong likelihood of serious hip surgery at the end of the season, putting the 12-year NHL veteran's career in jeopardy.

"There's no getting around it anymore," Taylor said by phone Wednesday. "I'll cross that path when I come across it. I've been told that no one has come back to play hockey afterward, but I'm going to do everything I can to get back."

Taylor got a cortisone shot Monday and missed Tuesday's game against Pittsburgh while waiting for it to take effect, in the hope it would get him through the season. Taylor said he hopes to play tonight against Washington.

Taylor, 38 next month, said doctors told him the hip procedure he would undergo is similar to the surgery cyclist Floyd Landis had after his Tour de France victory.

According to Landis' Web site, he had hip replacement surgery in September for a condition called avascular necrosis, the result of the impact of a cycling crash three years ago.

Landis reportedly has resumed cycling, which gives Taylor hope the procedure wouldn't necessarily end his career.

"I felt a lot more comfortable knowing that other athletes have had it and come back," Taylor said. "I've been told it's a common procedure in Europe."

Taylor said he was told recovery time is about six months, meaning he would miss the beginning of next season.

The Lightning would not comment on the seriousness of Taylor's injury Wednesday, saying only that he is listed as day to day with a lower body injury.

"My main concern is that after my hockey career is over, I am still able to bike and run and do all the things I've done to stay in shape," the 6-foot-1, 195-pound, Taylor said.

Taylor, whose minutes have dwindled steadily since he left a game against the Rangers Dec. 23 with hip soreness, said his mobility has been hampered because of the injury, but he knew he had to get treatment because the speed of his shot has decreased noticeably in recent games.

Taylor entered this season having played in every regular-season game for the Lightning the past three seasons, but he missed six games with a concussion before sitting out Tuesday's 3-2 win over Pittsburgh.

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.