Mats on shelf for 3 weeks

Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin played with an injured elbow on Monday. The injury will keep him...

Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin played with an injured elbow on Monday. The injury will keep him out for a possible three to four weeks. (Toronto Sun File/Alex Urosevic)

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:58 AM ET

To all those panicking Leafs fans who were foolishly crying "the season's over" upon hearing of Mats Sundin's elbow injury yesterday, here are a couple of tips.

First, step away from any sharp objects.

Second, take a deep breath and relax.

After all, if Sundin isn't fretting about the slight ligament tear in his right elbow, why should you?

"Just the way we've been playing since the start of the season, I'm not really worried about it," Sundin said. "We've been getting production from pretty much four lines and we're going to need that as we go on. It's a long season and you're going to have injuries.

"It could have been a lot worse. It looks like I'm not going to need surgery or anything. I'm looking to make this as short as possible."

Sundin, who turns 36 in February, suffered the injury in the first period of the Leafs' 4-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night. Sundin was circling the Flyers net when he was hit by Philly forward Ben Eager, the skilled agitator who played his junior hockey for the Oshawa Generals.

"I didn't really make much of the hit, I didn't even fall down but it kind of got my arm in the wrong way," Sundin said. "It hurt when it happened. Sometimes you get hit, you get a stinger and it kind it goes away. (This) stayed with me for the rest of the game."

A MRI conducted Tuesday revealed a slight tear, leaving the team's leading scorer -- he has 19 points in 17 games -- on the shelf for a minimum three weeks.

So why is the captain, his teammates and the entire Leafs organization not kissing away the campaign like many of their loyal supporters?

Here are three significant reasons:

1. Sundin's healing powers

Despite suffering a variety of strains, sprains, pulls and tears over his illustrious career, Sundin has never played less than 70 games during a regular 82-game NHL campaign.

A year ago, he was hit in the eye by a puck in the season opener against Ottawa, an injury that was initially considered to be career threatening. Instead, he was back by mid-November.

"Mats has proven he's a quick healer," general manager John Ferguson said. "We're hoping he proves that again."

2. The history books

Has everyone forgotten that the Leafs went 6-5-2 while he was out with that eye injury last season? His teammates certainly haven't.

"Guys stepped up last season when Mats went out and we'll all have to do it again," forward Darcy Tucker said. "It's a significant loss but its not the end of the world."

It certainly wasn't back in the 2002 playoffs. Sundin, if you'll recall, fractured his wrist in the first-round series against the New York Islanders. After missing 12 games, he returned to find his team in the eastern conference final against Paul Maurice's Carolina Hurricanes.

See. It can be done.

3. The schedule

After the Flyers game on Monday, the Leafs had just two games scheduled for the next 10 days, including tonight's tilt in Boston. Should he be able to return on Nov. 27 -- exactly three weeks to the day he was injured - Sundin would miss eight games.

"Our schedule is spread out a bit more in the coming weeks," Ferguson said. "That's a bit of a plus."

Ferguson, by the way, said he would not make any panic moves -- i.e. trades -- as short-term fixes while Sundin is out.

Maybe the mourning Leafs Nation should heed that same advice.


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