Leafs cautiously optimistic

LANCE HORNBY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

The Maple Leafs are cautiously optimistic of having Tomas Kaberle back in seven to 10 days, but no one can say for sure when the club's top defenceman can rejoin the playoff hunt.

Another round of tests were conducted yesterday, three days after Kaberle suffered a concussion from a late Cam Janssen hit.

"It's still too early for a definitive statement due to the nature of the injury," Leafs general manager John Ferguson said last night via e-mail. "He is not symptom-free but it is positive that his symptoms have not worsened."

Agent Rick Curran is also in constant contact with his client.

" He's still in the recovery stage, still under (NHL concussion) protocol," Curran said. "The important thing now is to be patient. Once he feels right, I'd think he'd begin minor activity such as riding a stationary bike."

Ferguson says Kaberle is also bothered by neck spasms but expects those to lessen and that headaches and woozy feelings will be the biggest worry.

"With Kris Newbury, he was fine the first two days (after getting his bell rung in a fight with Pittsburgh's Ronald Petrovicky), but it was Days 3 and 4 where he started to go sideways and a little bit backward," Ferguson said.

"We've all seen enough players over the years with this kind of injury where a return time frame is really fuzzy. We hope he's back in a week to 10 days. We certainly don't want him out any longer."

While Kaberle was at home with his family, debate raged on about the hit, the severity of Janssen's three-game suspension, the work of the referees Friday night in New Jersey, the issue of player respect and the NHL policing blows to the head.

Mike Murphy, vice-president hockey operations for the league, told AM640 radio that he clocked Janssen's hit at 1.25 seconds after Kaberle had passed the puck. That was judged ample time for Janssen to hold up, whereas the controversial Chris Neil hit on Chris Drury a few days earlier came just a split second after Drury let go. Thus Neil was not suspended.

"Every game we play without Tomas is a tough reminder of what transpired," Ferguson said. "There's no corelation between suspending the perpetrator and replacing an all-star after the trade deadline, someone who plays 30 minutes."


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