Ex-Leafs feel for hurt Bert

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:33 AM ET

While his team was preparing to face off against the Maple Leafs yesterday, Florida Panthers forward Todd Bertuzzi was undergoing surgery on his lower back.

Panthers coach Jacques Martin said he did not know how long Bertuzzi would be out of action although TSN was reporting that Big Bert would be sidelined for six to eight weeks.

The procedure, known as a microdisectomy, was aimed at cleaning up "part of the disc that was touching the nerve," Martin said.

"It was successful. Not long after (the operation) he felt a lot better because he had some pain in his legs when there was some pinching of his nerves."

Former Maple Leaf Gary Roberts was sympathetic to the plight of his new teammate.

"That's tough for him for sure," Roberts said. "You feel for him.

"You come to a new team and you try to fit in with new guys. He came in and he had a great start.

"I knew his back wasn't very good. It's unfortunate. He's a huge part of the team."

Bertuzzi had seven points and seven assists for the Panthers.

NIEUWY NEARING RETURN

Former Leaf Joe Nieuwendyk also can sympathize with Bertuzzi.

The Whitby native knows all about back woes, having been out of the Panthers lineup because of back spasms.

But he did return to the ice and skated Wednesday, an optimitic sign for a Panthers team that can use his speed and veteran leadership.

Martin hopes Nieuwendyk can be back in the lineup next Wednesday.

Either way, Nieuwendyk is dealing with the cards he has been dealt. He has no other choice.

"I understand my situation," Nieuwendyk told the Palm Beach Post. "I went through this last year but it got to a point where I went four or five months pain-free after that, so I hope I'm over it now."

Nieuwendyk, who missed his fifth game of the season last night, has three goals for the Panthers this season.


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