Big Mats hits the ice

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

For about a half-hour yesterday, Mats Sundin wished his injury was the kind that would not allow him on skates.

But after suffering through approximately 30 minutes of strenuous skating drills sans pucks, the Maple Leafs captain was a happy man.

Because it is his right elbow that is hurt, Sundin is capable of participating in drills as long as he does not shoot or take contact.

"The biggest issue any time you get an injury is your conditioning," Sundin said. "You want to make sure you get on that as soon as possible, and when you hurt your arm, there is no problem skating or staying in shape."

Sundin, who also went for a brief skate Saturday morning, was able to take part in line rushes yesterday. Passing and taking passes was fine, but when it came time to shoot, Sundin peeled off.

A couple of Sundin's teammates did not practise yesterday. Darcy Tucker had the day off after a Sheldon Souray slap shot Saturday night left a large welt on his right thigh. Jeff O'Neill had a maintenance day, but coach Paul Maurice said both will be in the lineup in the Leafs' next game, Thursday in Boston.

Goalie Andrew Raycroft (groin)was not on the ice.

The original prognosis was that Sundin, who suffered a slight ligament tear in his elbow in a game against the Philadelphia Flyers a week ago tonight, would be out for three or four weeks. That has not changed, but with Sundin's reputation as a fast healer (coupled with his ability to stay in shape), he could be back sooner than expected.

"We are rehabbing it now, just trying to get the swelling down," said Sundin, who has watched his club win both games without him. "It's a waiting game. I hope it is going to be shorter."

Sundin was asked what his secret is for usually getting discharged from sick bay quicker than initially thought.

"I don't know," Sundin said with a smile. "(Eating) pickled herring or something when I was growing up."


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