RALEIGH, N.C. -- Bryan McCabe woke up yesterday morning harbouring no ill-will toward the Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Kostitsyn.
He had far more pressing issues on his mind.
Like getting wife Roberta to help him put on his trousers when he got out of bed.
"I had a tough time getting dressed, I can tell you that," he admitted last night, less than 24 hours after a controversial Kostitsyn hit snapped three bones in McCabe's left hand. "The boys actually had to help me get dressed after the game.
"I can't even change my little daughter's diapers. I feel helpless. I'm just a big baby. This can't go on."
McCabe confirmed that he will undergo surgery possibly as early as today to repair the damage, which could leave him sidelined at least six to eight weeks. As of dinner time last night he was not yet certain where he would go under the knife or what the operation might entail, but those issues took a back seat to his No. 1 desire of getting the hand fixed immediately.
"The sooner the better. I want this over with as quickly as it can so I can start rehabbing. I'm not going to miss the rest of the season. I can pretty much guarantee you that."
McCabe has yet to see a replay of the incident, which occurred midway through the third period of the Maple Leafs 4-1 loss to Kostitsyn's Habs at the Bell Centre.
With his left hand already wedged against the glass, the veteran Leafs defenceman knew immediately that he was seriously hurt when Kostitsyn twisted him around and splattered him against the boards. Impervious that the Canadiens' Alexei Kovalev was scoring the Habs fourth goal just seconds after the incident, McCabe felt the excruciating pain shoot through the hand, causing him to immediately bolt to the trainers' room.
Leafs coach Paul Maurice, obviously frustrated at losing a 27-minute-a-game defenceman until at least the all-star break, snapped during his post-game press conference, accusing Kostitsyn's hit of being "a cheap shot" and "a bulls--- play."
Toronto general manager John Ferguson and Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau were far less critical of Kostitsyn, a sentiment echoed by McCabe.
"I don't even know exactly what happened," McCabe said. "We just seemed to get tangled up. It was a freak thing, that's all.
"I knew something was wrong right away. At first I couldn't move my hand. Then, when I could start moving it, I could feel bones moving around in there. That's never a good thing."
The injury comes just as McCabe seemed to be finding his groove. Prior to the loss Saturday night, the Leafs had gone seven games without allowing more than two goals in an outing, partially because of the increased confidence of goalie Vesa Toskala, partially because of the more efficient defensive zone coverage exhibited by McCabe and the rest of the Maple Leafs defencemen.
"I felt better about how I was playing," he said. "I thought both the team and I were turning things around. I really thought we were starting to build something here."
So who does McCabe feel will pick up the slack on the Leafs' back end in his absence?
The answer might surprise you.
"Carlo Colaiacovo is getting closer to coming back, and he could be a key," McCabe said. "He's skating again and, while the timing of this injury is bad for me, it's good timing for him. Hopefully he'll be able to help pick up some of the slack."
According to Ferguson, plans are for Colaiacovo to skate at Lakeshore Lions Arena today, then likely accompany the team on its three-game trip.
Leaf officials claim Colaiacovo is unlikely to play in any of those three games, but will benefit if he is able to practise with his teammates. After the Christmas break, well, who knows?
HELP ON THE WAY?
Colaiacovo has missed the entire season while recovering from knee surgery conducted last spring.
As for McCabe, he hopes he won't be sidelined any where near that long.
"I've never had a serious injury like this before," he said. "I've had a couple of knee scopes, but those were nothing compared to this.
"When they first told me what the injury was, I was devastated. I was shocked. All of the above.
"This really sucks."