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Malkin won't need surgery, will likely miss opener

PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Penguins rookie Evgeni Malkin,
re-examined by doctors on Monday, will not need surgery on his
dislocated left shoulder but still could be sidelined up to six
weeks.

Malkin, expected to team with Sidney Crosby to give the Penguins
one of the NHL's top center combinations, was injured during his
first preseason game Wednesday. Malkin collided with teammate John LeClair behind the net during a game in Moncton, New Brunswick.

The team did not set a timetable Monday for Malkin's return,
saying only that he will continue to rehabilitate. A common
recovery time for an injury of Malkin's nature is four to six
weeks, though athletes have returned earlier from less severe
separations.

If Malkin is out for a month, he likely will miss the Penguins'
first seven games. A six-week layoff would cause him to miss
approximately 10 games.

Surgery likely would have forced Malkin to miss up to two-thirds
of his rookie season -- a major setback not only to his career but
the Penguins' hopes of improving this season following four
consecutive last-place division finishes.

Despite being injured, the 20-year-old Malkin is expected to
rejoin the team at West Point, N.Y., this week for four days of
team-building exercises. The team flew from London, Ontario, where
it played a preseason game Sunday, to West Point on Monday and
doesn't play another preseason game until Friday.

It is uncertain how much physical work Malkin can do during the
West Point camp, but teammates said the injury appears to be less
serious than they initially feared it might be.

"The way he went down, I was just hoping he was going to get
up," Crosby said. "It was pretty scary the way he went down over
Johnny like that. The way he hit the ice, I wasn't sure if it was
his neck or his face or what it was."

Malkin, previously considered the best player not playing in the
NHL, left his Metallurg Magnitogorsk team of the Russian Super
League during training camp in Helsinki, Finland, last month to
make a clandestine journey to the United States and begin his NHL
career.

He was under contract for another year there, but was allowed to
sign an NHL contract because there is no transfer agreement between
the Russia, the International Ice Hockey Federation and the NHL
that compensates Russian teams for players who leave for the NHL.

Malkin also resigned from the team, citing a Russian labor law
that permits an employee to leave a job by giving two-weeks notice.

A Russian arbitration panel has ruled Malkin is still under
contract to Magnitogorsk, and the team is threatening to file suit
in the United States to receive compensation for losing Malkin.

The Penguins open the season Oct. 5 at home against
Philadelphia.