Penguins Notebook: Gonchar's return due in about three weeks
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TORONTO -- For the first time since defenseman Sergei Gonchar underwent surgery Oct. 2 to repair a dislocated left shoulder, the Penguins seem to have narrowed the window for his return.
"It's going to be nice to see Gonchar back," coach Michel Therrien said after the team's morning skate at Air Canada Centre in preparation for the game last night against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"He's about three weeks away."
That would put the team's top defenseman back in the lineup around the last week of February, fairly early in the four to six months he originally was projected to miss.
Gonchar took part in the optional morning skate in a red jersey as he continues to practice without contact.
Therrien said winger Ruslan Fedotenko "should be back pretty soon, too."
Fedotenko broke his right hand punching former Penguins winger Colby Armstrong in the face Jan. 6 during a 3-1 win against Atlanta. He presumably is on or ahead of the original schedule of missing four to six weeks.
For the second night in a row, the Penguins were spectators during a home team's pregame ceremony.
Friday, it was New Jersey broadcaster Mike "Doc" Emrick who was honored. Last night, it was Doug Gilmour. The Maple Leafs raised a banner with his No. 93 to the Air Canada Centre ceiling.
"I remember watching him growing up," Penguins center Sidney Crosby said. "I remember the spin-o-ramas behind the net."
Gilmour, a bulldog who played for seven teams over two decades and earned the nickname "Killer," retired in 2003 after returning to Toronto to play one more game for the Maple Leafs.
Toronto center Dominic Moore grew up in the Toronto area and idolized Gilmour, who had 450 goals, 1,414 points in his career and an impressive 188 points in 182 playoff games.
"I remember a lot about him," Moore said. "He was my hero when I was a kid. What I remember most about him was his heart. He was one of those guys who wore his heart on his sleeve. It seemed like he always had a black eye or two and played the game the way I wished I could."
Penguins center Mike Zigomanis, who played for the Kingston Frontenacs junior team now coached by Gilmour, donated tickets to the game to the current members of the Frontenacs. Zigomanis could not attend, however, because of recent shoulder surgery.
Defensemen Hal Gill, who was scratched Friday night, and Alex Goligoski, who had not dressed in the past four games, returned to the Penguins' lineup. Also back was winger Matt Cooke after serving a two-game NHL suspension for a hit to the head on Carolina's Scott Walker. ... The Penguins scratched defenseman Philippe Boucher and winger Paul Bissonnette and dressed seven defensemen. ... The Maple Leafs announced that All-Star defenseman Tomas Kaberle has a hand injury that will keep him out four to six weeks.
First Published February 1, 2009 12:00 am