Klee, Khavanov set to return

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 12:29 PM ET

That old adage about time healing all wounds applied to most Maple Leafs yesterday, the notable exceptions being Eric Lindros and Carlo Colaiacovo.

A potential hammer for the club in its final 25-game run to try and squeak into the playoffs, Lindros appeared to back away from returning for Tuesday's game against the Washington Capitals when the NHL schedule resumes. Lindros and 15 other Leafs were at the Air Canada Centre, their first post-break practice.

"I've been through this a few times," said Lindros, wary of being pinned down about the date his wrist ligament tear will heal sufficiently. "So I'm not going to fire one out. When it's ready, it'll be ready."

Before the 10-day Olympic break, he said his playing against the Caps next week was "a best-case scenario."

"There's a lot of frustration," he added.

"You guys are probably getting frustrated asking me the same question every other day."

Defencemen Ken Klee and Alex Khavanov looked and felt fine in the hour-long workout, to which four York University players were invited to fill out the roster with many Leafs still playing in Turin. But all eyes were on Lindros. He raised the puck a couple of times, but is not shooting with authority, 2 1/2 months after the injury occurred.

"I don't think I've been handling the puck that much recently, but you gradually get things back in gear," Lindros said. "I noticed it being stronger and the stability getting better."

Lindros will likely see his London, Ont., specialist before a more definitive call is made on when he can play.

Colaiacovo, the young injury-cursed defenceman, has not played since suffering a concussion on Jan. 23, but is hopeful to get cleared for light, off-ice workouts this week.

"I'm in good spirits," he said. "It's been really frustrating, but there isn't much I can do. I just took advantage of a lot of rest. I haven't been given a timeline or anything. The headaches have slowed down and hopefully that continues. (Riding the bike) would be a start, but our doctors aren't here (to approve it) so I'll probably meet them (today)."

Klee had badly sprained his ankle on Feb. 3, but with the holiday factored in, he shows no side effects.

"Some days, when I wake up, it's still pretty sore, but I think I'll be more than fine and ready for the last 25 games," Klee said. "You never want to get injured, but if I can have a three-week injury and only miss four games, I'll take it."

Khavanov, recovering from a cracked bone in his foot, also said he would be ready to go next week.

Coach Pat Quinn, Bryan McCabe and Nik Antropov, who were eliminated from the Olympic tournament this week, likely will rejoin the team during the weekend, while Mats Sundin, Mikael Tellqvist, Tomas Kaberle and Aki Berg remain alive for now.

Forward Matt Stajan said the Leafs must return mentally strong, as well as physically rejuvenated.

"We talked before the break to come back with fresh minds," Stajan said. "We didn't play well against the Rangers (back-to-back losses to New York at the break). But we're not going to get down on ourselves, not let what has happened in the last few months creep in. We'll move on and make the playoffs."

Lindros echoed the team target of 16 wins down the stretch.

"You look at what you need to get in the playoffs and 90 points is about the standard," he said. "So we have to play .680 or .700 hockey."


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