Jovo's pain McCabe's gain

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:39 AM ET

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Bryan McCabe skated his way onto the 23-man roster of the Canadian Olympic team yesterday without even stepping onto the ice.

Having missed the past nine games with a groin muscle tear, McCabe was dressed in his civvies when he got the word.

Vancouver Canucks defenceman Ed Jovanovski had pulled out of the Olympics, needing to undergo abdominal surgery stemming from a groin ailment of his own. He is expected to be out six weeks.

As the lone defenceman on Canada's three-man taxi squad, McCabe, health permitting, automatically steps into Jovanovski's spot on the seven-man blue line corps.

"This certainly is a bonus," an excited McCabe said after watching his Maple Leaf teammates snap an eight-game losing streak last night. "I wasn't expecting this.

"Obviously everyone wants to go over there and play. I'm definitely a lot more excited now."

McCabe expressed his appreciation for Team Canada coach Pat Quinn, one of his biggest backers.

"It's great to have Pat (in Turin)," McCabe said. "He sees me every night and knows what I can do. He has (lobbied) for me all the way."

McCabe has represented Canada five times on the international scene, winning gold in 1994 and '95 at the world juniors and 1997 at the world hockey championship. He also played at the 1998 and '99 worlds.

McCabe plans on returning to the Maple Leafs lineup tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the St.Pete Times Forum.

There was talk that he might be back for last night's game against the Panthers, a 4-2 Toronto victory. But Quinn admitted that Jovanovski's recent groin woes made the Leafs opt to take the cautious route.

Jovanovski returned from a groin injury last week and played well in the front end of back-to-back games.

But he reinjured his groin the following night, leaving his status for the upcoming Olympics in doubt.

By having McCabe rest last night, he'll be fresh for the Tampa game, then won't have to worry about playing again until Friday when the Leafs visit the Washington Capitals.

WHY RUSH IT?

"We just figured with the bad ice here, the hot building and back-to-back games it was better to wait a day so I can go at 100%," McCabe said.

"I'm coming back at full speed. The Olympic thing doesn't change anything. Either way I was going to go full out."

While happy that McCabe would get to play in Turin, Quinn was sympathetic toward Jovanovski.

"He was a big part of our team at the 2002 Olympics," Quinn said."It's too bad."


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