- The Washington Times - Monday, February 27, 2006

Maple Leafs captain Mats Sundin is expected to miss tomorrow night’s game against the Washington Capitals in Toronto when the NHL begins its post-Olympic schedule.

Sundin, who also was captain of the Swedish national team that won the Olympic gold medal yesterday, is among a group of players who will be slow coming back to the NHL after the Winter Games.

By the same token, the Caps were not sure yesterday which players they would play against Toronto or even which players would be available — not only because of injuries but also because of travel fatigue and the strong possibility of a trade.

Rookie left wing Alex Ovechkin, who already has played more games (55) this season than in any other in his brief career, is due to meet his club in Toronto today after playing eight games during the Winter Games. As much as his team needs him, he might get some time off.

“I’ll talk to him about it and see how he feels,” coach Glen Hanlon said yesterday.

Hanlon said he also would ask veteran Olie Kolzig, the German goalie in the Games, whether he wanted to jump right back into action.

Washington’s Ivan Majesky, a defenseman for Slovakia, reported to practice yesterday and is expected to play tomorrow night.

The Ovechkin situation might be complicated by what appeared to be an injury. The 20-year-old reportedly jammed his left wrist when he collided with Czech Republic defenseman Marek Zidlicky during the first period of the bronze medal game. Ovechkin left the game with about three minutes left in the first period — he also had skate difficulties — but returned and finished the game.

Television images showed trainers wrapping his left wrist tightly and later pictures showed he continued to wear the wraps during the game. While trying to rally his country from a mounting deficit, he appeared to be playing with as much intensity — if not more — than he ever displayed in the NHL.

“I wouldn’t know, honestly,” Hanlon said when asked whether he knew how badly his star wing had been injured.

General manager George McPhee said the same.

“He finished the game and looked like he had no problem,” Hanlon said. “When he took his gloves off, it didn’t look like he was all bandaged up or anything. My answer always is: If he’s injured and can’t play, I’ll deal with it. If not, I don’t want to occupy my time with things that haven’t happened. I don’t want to create problems for myself.”

The return of Majesky brought the number of NHL players present to 18, meaning at least two will be recalled from Hershey. One will be defenseman Mike Green, and the second will be center Jakub Klepis.

Rumors continue to surround veteran Washington defenseman Brendan Witt, who has asked to be dealt and probably will be shortly after the trading moratorium is lifted at midnight tonight. He appears to be headed either to Nashville or Vancouver, with his value growing by the day as injuries cripple contenders.

Just to ensure his health, Witt also may be among those not playing for Washington tonight.

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