Tuesday, October 23, 2007
© Copyright 2013
Gwinnett Daily Post
By Guy Curtright
ATLANTA - If the Thrashers are going to right their season, they'll have to do it without Kari Lehtonen.
The goalie will be out four to six weeks, with the team not expecting him back until December.
That means that veteran Johan Hedberg will get a heavy workload on the seven-game road trip that begins tonight in Toronto. Ondrej Pavelec, called up from the minors after Lehtonen was hurt on Thursday, is expected to get a start before the Thrashers (1-6-0) return to Atlanta to play Washington on Nov. 6. The 20-year-old made his NHL debut on Saturday, replacing Hedberg for the third period of a 6-2 loss at Tampa Bay.
Despite the groin injury to Lehtonen in the first period, the Thrashers defeated the New York Rangers 5-3 in their first game Thursday after the firing of coach Bob Hartley.
General manager Don Waddell is coaching the team on an interim basis and the loss to the Lightning dropped his career NHL record to 5-6-1. He filled in during the 2002-2003 season before replacing Curt Fraser with Hartley. Improved play by Lehtonen was supposed to be a key part of the Thrashers getting back on track after losing their first five games, but he made it through just half of the first period against the Rangers.
An MRI revealed no tear, although the groin strain is still a major setback for a goalie. The injury, though, is not the same as what sidelined Lehtonen for about half of the 2005-2006 season and likely cost the Thrashers a playoff spot. Waddell has not yet begun interviewing possible coaching replacements, but is expected to do so before the end of the long road trip.
The stop in Toronto is sure to generate plenty of speculation. Former Maple Leaf coach Pat Quinn, who once played for the Atlanta Flames, has expressed interest in the opening.
SideBar: Thrashers at Maple Leafs
' When: Today, 7:30 p.m.
' Where: Toronto's Air Canada Centre
' Radio: 680-AM