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Surgery may finish Blues' Kariya for season

ST. LOUIS -- St. Louis Blues left wing Paul Kariya will have
surgery on his left hip and could miss the rest of the season, the
latest hit for a franchise beset by injuries to key players.

The 34-year-old Kariya hasn't played since Nov. 5 in Anaheim,
when his body was wrenched by a hit from behind and he tore muscle
fibers near the top of his thigh. He had apparently recovered from
the initial injury and skated with the team three days this week,
but cut short his workout Friday after only about 10 minutes.

An MRI exam Friday revealed additional damage inside the hip and
Kariya and the Blues elected for surgery on Saturday after
consulation with several doctors. The decision was announced near
the end of the first period of a game against the San Jose Sharks.

Team president John Davidson said there was no timetable for
Kariya's return, and said surgery had not yet been scheduled.

"He knows the sooner he gets it done, the sooner he's going to
be able to play," Davidson said. "Whether that's six weeks from
now or toward the end of the season or toward the fall, it doesn't
matter.

"Doing it right, rehabbing it properly and getting the right
person to do it, that's more important than saying, 'Come on, let's
get back in a month."'

Davidson said there was no question the injury that's requiring
surgery is related to the hit in Anaheim.

"He was jolted from behind and it twisted his whole body and it
tore a muscle," Davidson said. "It's healed and there's still
discomfort. So now we've looked and there's more damage than first
thought and it's going to have to be repaired.

"This is all on that same hit from behind."

The Blues were last in the Western Conference with a 13-18-3
record and 29 points, having lost seven of the previous eight
games. They've been without several key players for long stretches,
beginning with defenseman Erik Johnson's season-ending knee injury
in a pre-training camp golf outing accident. Forward Andy McDonald
(broken ankle) and defenseman Eric Brewer (back surgery) and goalie
Manny Legace (hip, concussion) also have had extended absences.

"We're getting used to this," Davidson said. "We deal with
what we have to deal with. We have to play with purpose and
intelligence, and we'll compete, that's what the mandate is.

"We've had some clunkers lately but we've played hard most
nights and if we play smart we'll stay in games."

In the second season of a three-year, $18 million free agent
deal, Kariya has two goals and 13 assists in 11 games. He has 384
goals and 562 assists in 914 regular-season games with Anaheim,
Colorado, Nashville and St. Louis.

Kariya's first season with the Blues was a bit of a
disappointment. He had 16 goals and 49 assists to tie for the team
lead with 65 points while playing all 82 games, but seldom
challenged defenses during the franchise's second-half swoon and
totaled one goal in the final 26 games.

Davidson asserted that far from signaling the beginning of the
end for Kariya, he would emerge "better than ever" from the
surgery. He said Kariya was "very inquisitive" of what type of
player he might be after the operation.

"He'll be better, better than what he's been," Davidson said.
"Everybody feels if he gets it repaired and does his rehab
properly, he'll be 110 percent ready to go."