COLUMBUS — Just as Jonas Gustavsson was getting accustomed to life in the NHL, the Swedish rookie has had yet another setback.
Just how long he will be away from the team this time — his third health-related absence since training camp in September — depends on how he recovers from minor heart surgery scheduled for Friday in Toronto.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke said Thursday night that the Monster will be out of action for a “maximum” 10 days providing the ablation procedure to repair an irregular heartbeat goes well.
Gustavsson was felled by the same racing heart on the first day of training camp and had his first ablation shortly after. After leaving a game in Montreal on Tuesday following the first period and being rushed to hospital, the rookie goaltender was checked out by a heart specialist in Toronto Thursday and it was determined the first procedure had failed.
“We don’t view it as a serious problem and that’s good news,” Burke said prior to Thursday night’s game against the Blue Jackets. “We were warned that there is a standard 20% failure the first time with this procedure so we’re not surprised.
“Obviously we would have preferred it would have worked the first time, but the success rate on second ablations is much higher. Our doctors are assuring us it’s not an important issue and we think this will solve the problem.”
The latest setback for Gustavsson leads to a third extended break from the team. He also was bothered by a groin injury and missed five games because of injury in October.
“It’s tough on him because he’s just starting to get used to everything in North America,” said fellow Leafs goaltender, Joey MacDonald, who started Thursday against the Blue Jackets. “The size of the ice, the tempo, the playing every second night. You take a couple of steps back when you miss a couple of weeks.”
Meanwhile, another promising Swedish rookie — defenceman Carl Gunnarsson — figures to be out of the lineup much longer. The Leafs announced that Gunnarsson will miss up to six weeks to recover from an elbow injury suffered against the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
“It affects us, but we still have seven healthy defenceman,” said Leafs coach Ron Wilson, who went with Jeff Finger again Thursday while Garnet Exelby was a healthy scratch. “Getting Mike Komisarek back (this past Monday) more than made the difference. We’ll just have to make do without for a while.”
As for the goaltending situation, Wilson said that Vesa Toskala, who had missed the past four games with groin a injury but backed up MacDonald Thursday, is likely to start in Boston Saturday.