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March 27, 2002
Yushkevich inches closer to a return
By LANCE HORNBY, TORONTO SUN
On the same day the Maple Leafs received some good news about Dmitry Yushkevich's possible return from a blood clot, they learned Gary Roberts could be lost up to two weeks.
After delivering the most encouraging report on Yushkevich since the clot on his right leg was discovered in early February, general manager/coach Pat Quinn said an MRI after Monday's 4-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers revealed Roberts has torn muscles in the rib cage that will keep him out 10 to 14 days.
A much-anticipated final decision on Yushkevich's status for 2001-02 was deferred for two more weeks after a pre-game meeting that included Yushkevich, Quinn, assistant to the president Bill Watters, five doctors and player agent Mark Gandler.
That would bring the Leafs within three games of the start of the playoffs. Yushkevich could participate if tests continue to show that the clot is shrinking.
"I have a feeling this team can go all the way and I want to be a part of it," Yushkevich said. "I don't want to be watching the games on television.
"I accept the risk and I understand the risk. I'm optimistic about my future."
But there is the matter of how fast the clot is shrinking and what would be involved on game day with the blood thinning program.
"We're not going to put him or any other player (at risk)," Quinn said, though he added: "We're working toward something with a very high probability of (success)."
Dr. Jack Hirsh, a specialist from McMaster University in Hamilton, and a European colleague familiar with this thrombosis condition attended last night's meeting.
Yushkevich has been practising diligently and is confident of being ready for the playoffs.
He was in the midst of another busy season, averaging more than 23 minutes of ice time, when the clot took him out of the lineup.
He is in fear of having a health question hanging over his head when
he is scheduled to become a Group 2 restricted free agent next year.