Monster's ailment frustrating, scary

Toronto Maple Leafs' Jonas Gustavsson make a save against the Florida Panthers.  (QMI)

Toronto Maple Leafs' Jonas Gustavsson make a save against the Florida Panthers. (QMI)

ROB LONGLEY, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:21 AM ET

COLUMBUS, Ohio -- In a competitive sense, Jonas Gustavsson's teammates applaud their rookie goaltender's heart.

In a medical sense, his employers are concerned about the ticker of the big Swedish rookie, who is out of the lineup because of a second cardiac scare in his three short months as a Maple Leaf.

The Monster did not accompany his teammates here for Thursday’s game against the Blue Jackets and instead returned to Toronto to be examined by a heart specialist.

Just when he returns to the lineup depends on those results and how quickly the team is willing to rush back a youngster who was forced out of Tuesday’s game in Montreal with an elevated heart rate. The team doesn’t expect to have results from the tests until Thursday.

When he arrived at the Leafs’ hotel here in the Ohio capital Wednesday afternoon, coach Ron Wilson said he “had no idea” of Gustavsson’s condition. Wilson did confirm that Joey MacDonald, who came on in relief of Gustavsson after the first period of Tuesday’s shutout win over the Habs, will start Thursday night.

Understandably, Leafs players were concerned for their teammate but miffed at the mystery surrounding his condition.

The baffling part is that the symptoms disappeared as quickly as it came and left no after-effects for the former Swedish Elite League star.

“As far as I could tell, there was nothing different in his mood,” said fellow Swede Rickard Wallin. “I talked to him (Wednesday) and the only thing that was different was that he was disappointed he couldn’t finish the game because it started really well for him.

“I saw him and it looked like he probably could go back there.”

That won’t, however, be on this road trip, which includes a Saturday date in Boston. The loss of Gustavsson continues the injury bug that has hit Leafs goaltenders hard.

With Vesa Toskala’s current groin injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the past four games, the top two Leafs goaltenders will have missed a combined 17-man games due to injury (Toskala nine, Gustavsson, seven.)

It is the second time the celebrated off-season free agent acquisition has been sidelined with heart problems. On the opening day of training camp, Gustavsson collapsed and later had minor heart surgery known as an ablation to help correct the condition.

On Tuesday, Gustavsson was rushed to hospital in Montreal but as general manager Brian Burke said Wednesday: “He did not have to spend the night.”

Unless the Leafs call up another goaltender Thursday, it is expected that Toskala will back up MacDonald against Rick Nash and the Jackets as they look for a fourth victory in five games, one of their hottest streaks in this struggling season.

“It’s really serious because of the uncertainty,” forward Lee Stempniak said of Gustavsson. “It’s not like (blocking) a shot or a physical thing, with your heart, anytime it’s involved it’s very serious. Obviously it’s pretty scary.”


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