Klee injury could be serious

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:29 AM ET

A badly limping Ken Klee has no idea when he'll be back in the Maple Leafs lineup, but Alexander Khavanov has an outside chance of playing in the pre-Olympic break series against the New York Rangers.

Klee couldn't have an MRI done on his twisted left ankle during the weekend, but of the tests conducted to date, general manager John Ferguson said last night that "first impressions are not encouraging."

Klee hurt himself Friday night in Washington, the fifth Toronto defenceman to be injured since Jan. 7 and the fourth now out of the lineup.

Coach Pat Quinn doubted he would have any of his injured players back before the two-week hiatus: Klee; Khavanov (cracked foot); Aki Berg (ribs); Carlo Colaiacovo (concussion); and Eric Lindros (wrist ligaments). Colaiacovo has not even been cleared to exercise. Berg will be on the ice today, but Quinn said that doesn't mean he'll be rushed back to play in Tuesday's match here against Atlanta or for the Rangers series.

The crack in Khavanov's foot runs horizontally, which is the best-case scenario, though if he comes back too soon, he risks a four- to six- week setback.

TRY SKATING

"When I'm able to put weight on it, I'll be ready to try skating," he said. "It can be as soon as Tuesday or Wednesday. I'll need at least two days of practice, so I can't say anything about playing (against the Rangers)."

Wade Belak filled in on defence last night, working 12 minutes despite having played all this regular season as a right winger. The Leafs took a lot of heat last summer for re-signing Belak and committing $665,000 US of precious salary-cap space. But with Toronto defencemen falling faster than Liberal leadership candidates, Belak is able to justify his place.

"He did really well," Quinn said. "He did what Wade should do as a guy using his best assets. He finished off his check well and he moved the puck quickly."


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