The pain will never leave until he leaves the game.
It's a fact of life Alexander Mogilny is reminded of each time he steps on to the ice.
"I wish I could say I feel great," Mogilny said yesterday. "I wish I could say I only feel discomfort a little bit when it comes around.
"But I can't. It varies on a daily basis. I just have to deal with it.
"I still enjoy the game. How long I can stand (the pain), well, we'll have to see."
On the surface, Mogilny looked fine in the early stages last night. Making his first appearance against the Maple Leafs since signing with the New Jersey Devils as a free agent during the summer, he turned on the jets just three minutes in only to have former teammate Ed Belfour thwart his breakaway attempt.
But scrape away the fancy moves and you'll find a veteran who continues to be plagued by recurring hip woes.
After first going under the knife to repair his ailing hip in November 2003, he was back in the Leafs lineup in time for the playoffs five months later. But the hip continued to give him problems, leading to a second surgery in September 2004.
Once the lockout ended, Mogilny did not receive an offer to return to the Leafs. Pat Quinn had a strong desire to retain the talented winger, but admitted there was not enough wiggle room under the $39-million US salary cap to keep him.
The normally money-conscious Devils then shocked much of the hockey world by shelling out $7 million over two seasons to Mogilny, outbidding Mike Keenan's Florida Panthers in the process.
Mogilny entered play last night having missed just five games this season, scoring 12 goals and 13 assists in the process.
"He is probably the most talented player I've ever played with," Leafs captain Mats Sundin said.