Nolan talks way into skating again

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 1:41 PM ET

 Seeing Owen Nolan gliding around the rink at the Air Canada Centre yesterday morning caused the rumour mongers in the stands to wag their tongues at a record pace.

 Was the Maple Leafs winger going to be pushed into action before his injured right knee had fully healed?

  Or was the ailment not as serious as originally thought, leaving coach Pat Quinn poised to unveil Nolan last night?

 Time out here.

 Nolan has no idea when or if he'll be back during these 2004 playoffs. With a potential return appearing to be a long shot, the only certainty involving his knee is that he'll have an MRI, likely this weekend, which is expected to show the extent of the damage.

 "I think the next picture taken of the knee will give us an indication of what's going on, because there was so much swelling and fluid in there, they couldn't really get an accurate picture," said Nolan.

 "I have a real good range of motion in the knee. The doctors said I'm ahead of schedule, but this will be the best indicator."

 Nolan has started riding the stationary bike, but the fact he hadn't been able to skate was driving him bonkers. So he convinced the team's medical staff to allow him back on the ice for the first time since he injured the knee on March 27.

 "I just buttered them up to let me go out," he said. "I had to talk them into it, and I'm glad they did. I've been champing at the bit. It's been tough to watch a series like this. To be on the outside looking in, sometimes you don't feel like a part of the team. That's why I'm so grateful they let me skate with the guys. It felt like I was part of the team again."

 Quinn was caught off-guard when told that Nolan had been on the ice.

 "I didn't know he had clearance," the coach said.


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