Leafs' Sundin shoots for weekend return

Updated: November 2, 2005, 6:19 PM ET
Associated Press

TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs star Mats Sundin returned to practice Wednesday, the first time he's skated since he was hit in the eye by a puck on opening night.

Mats Sundin

The big captain wore a visor -- one of eight Leafs skaters to do so -- during the hour-long workout.

"It's been frustrating, but at the same time it feels like I've been so fortunate my whole career," said Sundin, who has missed just 35 games due to injury in his 11 years with Toronto. "I've played many years without having any serious injuries."

His teammates and the Toronto coaches noted his presence.

"He had that big smile on his face that shows up when he's doing something he loves," Leafs coach Pat Quinn said. "It was a good thing to see."

Sundin joined his teammates on the afternoon flight to Raleigh, N.C., but isn't expected to be in the lineup when the Leafs face the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night.

Instead, he's looking at returning this weekend -- either for Toronto's home game against Tampa Bay on Saturday or for the road game in Washington on Sunday.

"It's more realistic [than playing in Carolina] because I haven't skated our practiced in more than three weeks," he said.

Sundin was hit below his left eye just seven minutes into Toronto's Oct. 5 game against the Ottawa Senators.

He immediately dropped to the ice and covered his face while rolling around in pain. He lost complete vision in the eye for five minutes and it took a few days for the blood to clear. Sundin also had a fractured orbital bone.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press