Tlusty's refuge is on the ice

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 8:27 AM ET

BOSTON -- An embarrassed Jiri Tlusty has endured more than his share of exposure both on the Internet and in the press the past few days.

Shielded by both his teammates and the Maple Leafs organization from the media frenzy stemming from the nude photos on display on the web, the 19-year-old has watched his world away from the rink go haywire.

The only real refuge is on the ice, where he can concentrate on the one stable thing in his life these days -- hockey.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the story broke earlier this week, Tlusty said that playing hockey will help him move forward, hopefully leaving the distractions in the rearview mirror.

"My focus right now is to play hockey," Tlusty said after the Leafs morning skate at the TD Banknorth Garden yesterday. "That is what I'm here to do."

Tlusty, a native of the Czech Republic, Tuesday released a statement on the controversy but had not addressed the issue in any kind of interview before yesterday.

"My life away from the rink is one thing, but hockey is hockey," he said. "It lets me get away from those other things. I'm a teenager, I made a mistake and now it is time to move on. Hockey helps me do that.

"Hockey is hockey. It's what I do. I don't want to comment on those other things."

Tlusty had two goals and two assists in nine games entering play last night against the Boston Bruins. He was averaging 11 minutes, 25 seconds of ice time.

Tlusty scored twice during his NHL debut on Oct. 25 in Pittsburgh against the Penguins, the first goal coming when a shot deflected off his rump and into the net.


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