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Rambler's Top100

27 марта 2002 года. 
Leafs need to save Yushkevich from himself 

Rosie DiManno

THERE'S NO doubting the valour of Dmitry Yushkevich. The sense he was born with though, that's another matter. 

I'd smack him upside the head, if I weren't afraid it might cause permanent brain injury at this point. 

Permanent injury, "a blood explosion in my head," as Yushkevich himself put it last night, even death: All are within the realm of possibility, however remote, if Yushkevich persists in his obstinacy about returning to the Maple Leaf lineup in time for the playoffs. 

The thing is, quantifying the risk he faces is a medical impossibility, given the current facts. Yushkevich, the senior member of the Leaf blue line corps and its defensive anchor, has a blood clot in his right leg. Eight weeks ago, that blood clot was about two feet long, a shocking revelation to many of us who, lacking any medical knowledge, assumed the blockage in the arterial vein was, oh, the size of a loonie. So when he said last night the clot had shrunk to about half its size as a result of the treatment he's been receiving, the blood-thinning injections, the prognosis sounded hopeful. 

At least it sounded optimistic, as Yushkevich and the medical experts hunkered down for an hour-long meeting with coach/GM Pat Quinn, prior to last night's hockey game. "Optimistic" is how the Leaf organization characterized the situation in a press release, which stated doctors were holding out the possibility Yushkevich might be back in harness for the post-season. His condition would be re-evaluated in two weeks. 

From Yushkevich's perspective, that's good enough. He fully expects to be playing again by the end of the regular season. And he expects this because he's a hockey player right down to the marrow, scornful of injury. 

Thus Yushkevich is prepared to ignore the risks, ignore the unhappiness of his lawyer wife, Oksana, ignore even his paternal responsibility to the couple's four-year-old triplets. "The medicine is so good here, I won't die," Yushkevich observed, waving off the dangers and whistling past the graveyard. 

Asked what might ensue if he returns to action with the blood clot still lurking in his vein, Yushkevich responded: "Well, they're afraid the blood clot might start going up (toward his heart) and we can't stop it." 

This horrible scenario could very well have occurred in early February, had discomfort in the leg not driven Yushkevich to seek medical attention. That was one day before the Leafs flew off to Long Island. "It could easily have happened on the plane." 

Blood thinners have shrunk the clot - gee, it's only a foot long now - but Yushkevich can't take the treatment on days when he plays, lest he suffer an injury - a concussion, a contusion, even a small cut - causing him to hemorrhage. And, oh yeah, die. So his treatment would consist of day-on day-off medication. 
Bloody foolish. 

"I love hockey so much," Yushkevich said, adding the last two months, sidelined, have been a misery. "I've been in this organization for seven years. I think this team can go all the way. I don't want to be sitting in the dressing room or watching it on TV." 

Yushkevich was wildly heartened by what the doctors said yesterday, even when presented with the potential risks that remain. "I said yes, I'm going to play. I accept the risk. There's risk every time you step on the ice." 

True, but not this kind of risk. 

Clearly this is a decision that must be taken out of Yushkevich's grasping hands. Given his passion for the game, he cannot be trusted to act wisely. Quinn, who described Yushkevich as a "warrior," said as much when he noted that, for some players, the game, is "beyond a passion." 

"Are we going to let him make the sole decision? The answer is no." 

Yushkevich will have to live with that. Which surely beats dying. 

Страничка Дмитрия Юшкевича на сайте "Звёзды с Востока"


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