Canadiens' Koivu cautious over eye injury

Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu still has concerns over his injured left eye as the team prepares to enter training camp.

Montreal Canadiens captain Saku Koivu still has concerns over his injured left eye as the team prepares to enter training camp.

The veteran centre's eye remained red and partially closed when he arrived at the Canadiens' annual charity golf tournament at Laval-Sur-La-Lac on Tuesday.

Koivu was left a swollen, bloody mess after he was clipped by a high stick from Justin Williams of the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 3 of Montreal's Eastern Conference quarter-finalinApril.

He had surgery to repair the detached retina in the off-season.

"It's going a lot better," he said. "We'll do more tests next week. We're hoping for the best."

Koivu said he is still struggling with his peripheral vision and can't predict whether the lingering problem will affect him on the ice.

"Whether it gets better, I don't know," he said. "I'm hoping it won't affect too much.

"Now I want to get into some scrimmages and battles on the ice and see how it reacts. We'll see in training camp when we play serious hockey how the eye will react."

Koivu said he will don a visor one size larger this season "just to make sure it won't happen again."

The 31-year-old Finnish native has been skating for two weeks in his hometown of Turku.

During the crucial Game 3 matchup with the Hurricanes on April 26, Koivu was breaking to the net in the second period when he was clipped by Williams.

Koivu immediately collapsed to the ice and was taken to the hospital where he remained for two days as doctors tried to determine the damage done through the swelling and bleeding.

The eye injury is the latest in a string of heath problems to befallKoivu. He's hadvarious knee problems andmissed the majority of the 2001-02 season after recovering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma, a form of cancer in the abdomen.

But general manager Bob Gainey said he is confident thatKoivu will recover from his latest setback.

"With such a serious injury, there's always that bridge to get over where he actually gets back into competition," said Gainey.

"He's been training, skating. He's been working with his former team in Finland, but he'll have to get back on the ice here and pass through that barrier."

If Koivu is unable to join the Canadiens at the beginning of the season, the pressure will fall on second-line centre Mike Ribeiro to step up his game.

"We really hope for Saku, but if he can't start the season, it'll probably up to me to step up and for some younger guys maybe to mature quicker than they're supposed to," said Ribeiro.

The team's training camp opens on Sept. 14.

With files from the Canadian Press