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Injured Canuck Manny Malhotra optimistic about recovery from eye injury

VANCOUVER - Vancouver Canucks centre Manny Malhotra says he's optimistic about a positive recovery from an eye injury that ended his NHL season.

Malhotra offered few other details in a statement the Canucks released Wednesday.

''Although there is a lot of recovery and healing to take place, I am very optimistic for a good outcome,'' Malhotra said. "The past three weeks have been a very emotional time for myself and my family.

"I owe a great deal of thanks to a number of people."

Malhotra has undergone two surgeries after being hit in the left eye by a puck March 16. He was hurt when a pass deflected off the stick of Colorado Avalanche defenceman Erik Johnson into his eye.

The 30-year-old, who does not wear a visor, underwent a first operation immediately after the incident. The Canucks announced March 21 he was lost for the season.

Malhotra underwent a second surgery last week in New York.

In his statement, Malhotra said his wife, Joann, ''has been a pillar of strength for me and kept me focused on the best possible outcome at all times.''

He also acknowledged the support he has received from teammates, Canucks coaches, management and owners.

"It is truly a blessing to be part of an organization with such quality, caring people and I can't thank them enough,'' he said.

Malhotra has been overwhelmed by the concern shown towards him by players across the league.

"The NHL is a tight-knit community," he said. "I would like to thank all the players, coaches and GMs around the league, some I've never even had the chance to meet, who extended their regards and best wishes for a speedy recovery.

"My most heartfelt and sincere thank you to all of the incredible fans in Vancouver and around the league for keeping me in your thoughts and prayers. Your messages were a daily reminder of what a privilege it is to play for you.''

The Canucks said Malhotra will provide no further comments or interviews at this time.

Malhotra, a former first-round draft pick of the New York Rangers, signed a US$7.5-million, three-year contract as a free agent last summer with the Canucks. He was second in the NHL with a 61.7 per cent faceoff percentage when he was injured.

He had 11 goals and 30 points in 72 games.


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