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Tuesday, August 31, 2004
Center has 'lower-body injury'

Associated Press

MONTREAL -- Mike Modano has joined the growing list of injured U.S. hockey players

Modano went down with a "lower-body injury" Tuesday night during the United States' 2-1 loss to Canada in the opening game of the World Cup of Hockey for both teams.

Before the tournament even started, the United States lost defensemen Derian Hatcher, Mathieu Schneider, Jordan Leopold and Brian Rafalski, along with center Jeremy Roenick.

"You don't replace a Mike Modano," New Jersey Devils center Scott Gomez said. "There's guys waiting in the wings, but [Modano] could be the best U.S. player ever. There will be guys ready to step up, and hopefully Mike will be all right.

"If you look around the locker room, we've dealt with injuries already. Once you're in the tournament, it doesn't matter."

American captain Chris Chelios, who has been to three Stanley Cup finals, knows the ability to avoid injuries is often the difference between success and failure.

"It seems like teams that do well in the playoffs or in tournaments remain healthy," the Detroit Red Wings defenseman said. "Hopefully, Mike will be able to be ready for us, maybe not next game but the following game. We don't know how bad his injury is."

Without Modano, U.S. coach Ron Wilson had to juggle his forward lines for much of the final 40 minutes of play.

"Ronnie was just throwing lines together," Minnesota Wild forward Brian Rolston said. "Not too many line combinations could stay together because of that."

Despite losing Modano, the Americans played their best hockey in the second period after starting flat in the first when they were outshot 19-6.

United States center Doug Weight said his club was expecting an emotional start from the Canadians, who were playing in front of a home crowd.

"We knew it was going to be like that, and we just wanted to weather the storm," he said. "But we didn't think it was going to be 17 minutes of it."