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Doctors expect LeClair won't need surgery

NEW YORK -- Penguins forward John LeClairr was examined by
team doctors in Pittsburgh for the second straight day Monday, but
it was still too soon to determine when he could return from a
freak injury that left him with broken bones in his face.

Doctors still believe that surgery won't be necessary for
LeClair's injuries to heal. His face is still too swollen, however,
for a full evaluation to know just how much playing time he will
have to miss. For now, all the Penguins will say is that he is out
indefinitely.

LeClair was struck on the cheek just below his right eye
Saturday morning as he skated with the team in Boston in
preparation for that night's game against the Bruins. A shot taken
from the blue line was deflected and came up and caught the
36-year-old left winger in the face.

He immediately skated off the ice to receive medical attention,
and before long his face had swelled and a black eye developed.
LeClair returned to Pittsburgh and saw doctors on Sunday and
Monday, while the Penguins continued a five-game road trip -- their
longest of the season.

After facing the Rangers in New York on Monday night, the
Penguins were to play the Thrashers in Atlanta on Wednesday before
returning home.

The five-time All-Star power forward was playing well at the
time of his injury, having scored four goals in four games. He has
five goals and five assists in 13 games this season.

"He's been a real good player for us and he really started to
find his groove the last five or six games," said forward
Mark Recchi, LeClair's longtime teammate with Philadelphia and now
Pittsburgh.

LeClair is in the first year of a two-year deal with the
Penguins, who brought in several new veteran players that suddenly
became affordable to Pittsburgh under the NHL's new financial
landscape. He is earning $2.1 million this season after becoming a
free agent once the Philadelphia Flyers bought out the final year
of his five-year contract this summer.

Had he remained with the Flyers this season, LeClair would've
made $6.84 million after the 24 percent rollback written into the
NHL's new collective bargaining agreement. Instead, Philadelphia
bought him out for $4.56 million, allowing him to move across the
state.

LeClair, who spent 10 seasons with the Flyers, has 387 goals and
384 assists in 886 NHL games. He spent four-plus seasons with
Montreal, before being dealt to Philadelphia in the trade that sent
Recchi to the Canadiens.

Recchi returned to Philadelphia in 1999 and remained with the
Flyers until he also joined the Penguins this season for his second
stint in Pittsburgh.