McCleary would "definitely" return to rink

Injured Canadiens forward Trent McCleary thanked his doctors and trainers Tuesday for saving his life. McCleary met the media for the first time since almost dying after taking a slap shot in the throat.

McCleary, wearing a Habs jacket and with a tube coming out of his nose, looked like he had lost weight as he sat beside three of his doctors at the Montreal General Hospital.

He smiled throughout and took questions, writing his response on a pad. Asked about the pain he had gone through, McCleary replied: ``Not bad at all, the toughest was (that) it scared me as well as my family.''

McCleary underwent surgery twice to repair a complex fracture of the larynx. He underwent an emergency tracheotomy Jan. 29 after he was struck in the throat with a slap shot from Chris Therien of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Doctors said he would have died had he not had the tracheotomy.

Dr. Nader Sadeghi said McCleary will have ``serviceable speech'' again, but it is too early to say what effects the injury would have on his voice.

Dr. Franoise Chagnon said McCleary was ready to leave the hospital, but was slated to come back in two or three weeks for another checkup.

Asked if would return to hockey, McCleary wrote ``Definitely,'' underlining the word, and saying it was just another ``speed bump'' in his career.