Belfour could miss four weeks

Updated: August 22, 2004, 2:51 AM ET
Associated Press

OTTAWA -- Ed Belfour might require back surgery, a decision that could keep the Toronto Maple Leafs' goalie sidelined for at least four weeks.

Belfour has a bulging disc and his condition has worsened since he pulled out of Canada's World Cup team on Aug. 9.

"I think it's something new that's developed," Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn said.

He said that it wasn't a certainty at this point whether the 39-year-old Belfour would go ahead with surgery but that a decision would have to be made soon.

Quinn said the recovery time probably would be four to six weeks. The Leafs would begin the season without Belfour unless labor problems delay the start.

The Leafs signed Belfour to a new contract June 30 that will pay him at least $14 million over the next two seasons, and up to $18 million in total if the third year of his deal is activated.

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press