Toskala hip to surgery

STEVE BUFFERY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:57 AM ET

The long, painful season has come to an end for Maple Leafs goaltender Vesa Toskala.

Toskala announced following practice at Lakeshore Lions Arena yesterday that he will undergo hip surgery next week, followed by a less serious groin operation at a later date.

With Toskala shut down, the Leafs claimed goaltender Martin Gerber from the Ottawa Senators yesterday and the Swiss national team goalie is expected to start for the Leafs tonight at the Verizon Center against the Washington Capitals.

Toskala's surgery will be performed by Dr. Marc Philippon in Vail, Colo., who operated on Toskala's hip during the 2004-05 season.

"He's the best hip surgeon in the world," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "This isn't an easy procedure. You're looking at four months. You're looking at being on crutches from anywhere from two weeks to a month. And then he has to have another procedure (on his groin), which isn't a very serious procedure, but he still has to go under the knife twice."

Toskala, 31, played 53 games for the Leafs this season, posting a 3.26 goals against average and an .891% save percentage. He had been criticized by Leafs GM Brian Burke and Wilson for his sub-par play and his practice habits, though Toskala hinted throughout the season that he was not 100% and playing through pain. Interestingly, the Finn had an MRI done a couple of weeks ago the team reported that there was no structural damage.

"It doesn't matter," Toskala said, when asked about the criticism. "We're on the same page now, we know what we need to do and we'll get the healing going as soon as possible. It's all good. I'm going to be 100% and there will be no excuses next year."

Gerber posted a 2.86 goals against and .899 save percentage with the struggling Senators this season before being shipped down to the Binghamton Senators of the AHL. He becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season.

The Leafs decided to pick up Gerber because they want their so-called goaltender of the future, Justin Pogge, to finish the season, at least most of it, with the AHL Toronto Marlies.


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