Naslund has surgery to repair broken leg

Vancouver Canucks captain Markus Naslund won't be able to skate for at least three months after undergoing two hours of surgery Sunday to repair a broken right leg suffered in an NHL game Friday night.

Doctors said the surgery involved inserting a rod in the broken tibia.

"At this point in time I don't foresee any problems," said Dr. Bill Regan, the Canucks' team physician who assisted Dr. Bill Meek in the operation at Vancouver General Hospital.

"He's doing very well. It's about 98 per cent assured he will be absolutely fine and 100 per cent recovered by next season's training camp."

The season-ending injury to Vancouver's leading scorer and most valuable player was a major blow to a team trying to reach the playoffs for the first time in five years. After beating the Atlanta Thrashers 5-3 Sunday, the Canucks were fifth in the Western Conference with 85 points from a 35-23-8-7 record.

During the game, Brendan Morrison played left wing on a line with centre Andrew Cassels and Todd Bertuzzi.

Naslund, 27, broke both the tibia, the larger of two bones in the lower leg, and the fibia, in a game against the Buffalo Sabres. The left-winger spent the night in hospital in Buffalo, N.Y., before being flown to Vancouver on Saturday night.

Regan explained the tibia takes 90 per cent of the weight when you walk. During the procedure, a rod was inserted down the middle of the bone and then had screws placed across it, inside the bone.

"That secured rotational stability of the fracture," Regan said.

Naslund was alert after the operation and could leave hospital as early as Tuesday.

"There's no need for him to have a cast," said Regan. "He can start immediately with a range of motion of his knee and his ankle.

"He will be non-weight bearing for approximately 10 to 12 weeks. He can begin working on his muscles around his knee almost immediately.

"When the fracture has healed he should be ready to start skating. That is somewhere in the next three to four months."

Unlike other injuries, where patients often endure long, painful rehabilitation, Naslund can return to the ice as soon as the break is healed.

"Often times with ligaments, you need to give it time for form a sufficient amount of scar," Regan said. "This won't be necessary here."

Naslund, a native of Omskoldsvik, Sweden, was enjoying the best season of his eight-year NHL career. He had a career-high 41 goals along with 34 assists in 72 games.

He was injured at 8:51 of the third period when he was squeezed out by Rhett Warrener and Jay McKee while chasing down a loose puck. Naslund feel awkwardly into the boards with his right leg twisted under him.

By Jim Morris