Surgery a success

Owen Nolan had surgery to repair cartilage and meniscus damage in his right knee Tuesday. He is...

Owen Nolan had surgery to repair cartilage and meniscus damage in his right knee Tuesday. He is expected to be out 4-6 months. (Toronto Sun File Photo/Mike Peake)

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 8:40 AM ET

The Owen Nolan situation remains a sore point for the Maple Leafs, but at least the winger is on the long road to recovery.

The 33-year-old Nolan was operated on yesterday by Dr. Tony Miniaci, chief surgeon at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who repaired cartilage and meniscus damage in his right knee.

"It went well," Nolan's agent, J.P. Barry told The Toronto Sun last night. "Owen looks forward to getting back to rehab now that the problem interfering with his progress has been addressed. He will be out four to six months."

Where in the National Hockey League he winds up is another matter. Barry and Maple Leafs' general manager John Ferguson have locked horns over Nolan's injury since last autumn when the latter was cleared to play by Leafs doctors.

FILES A GRIEVANCE

Nolan, who originally was hurt in a game against Ottawa in March 2004, insisted he was still in pain, but the medical clearance meant the Leafs didn't have to pay almost all of his $6.5 million US deal during the lockout year. Barry filed a grievance with the National Hockey League.

The grievance, however, has yet to be heard.

Nolan was about to be bought out of this season's final year of the contract at two thirds of $4.94 million when Barry announced the surgery was scheduled, theoretically blocking the Leafs from buying out an injured player.

Ferguson, though he had fired two of his club doctors a month ago, believes Nolan's troubles occurred after he was cleared last October and that the Leafs have the right to get his salary off the books without it counting toward the $39 million salary cap.

Where this saga goes now depends on Ferguson who must decide by the league's 5 p.m. Friday deadline whether to keep Nolan or buy him out, use the cash for other free agents next week and hope he prevails with any and all grievances down the road.

Barry said Miniaci has contacted Ferguson with the surgical data.

Until yesterday, the two sides had nothing but X-rays and MRIs on which to base their conclusions.

Ferguson, who could not be reached for comment last night, likely will speak to Barry again today.


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