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Penguins' Gonchar opts for surgery

STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- Defenseman Sergei Gonchar will be sidelined until March after undergoing surgery scheduled for Thursday to repair a dislocated left shoulder, sources told the Tribune-Review late Monday.

The Penguins are expected to make an official announcement today.

Gonchar, injured Sept. 20 in the Penguins' exhibition opener at Mellon Arena, elected for surgery after meeting with a third orthopedic specialist yesterday. He was examined last week by team physician Dr. Charles Burke and an orthopedic specialist. Gonchar said last Thursday his prognosis was "either, 'You're doing surgery' or 'You're not doing surgery.'"

Gonchar did not accompany the Penguins to Stockholm, where they will open the regular season with games against Ottawa at Globe Arena this weekend.

Sources notified the Tribune-Review of Gonchar's decision late yesterday afternoon. General manager Ray Shero could not be reached for comment around 1 a.m. in Stockholm, which is six hours ahead of Pittsburgh.

Gonchar also could not be reached for comment.

Gonchar's left shoulder was dislocated on a hard hit into the boards by Tampa Bay forward David Koci, who said it was "clean." Several of Gonchar's teammates described the hit as "late," but added they did not consider it dirty.

Dr. Trent Gause of North Hills-based Tri Rivers Surgical Associates told the Tribune-Review last week that shoulder surgery is usually followed by a recovery period of 4-6 months. Dr. Gause, who practices sports medicine but is not aware of the specifics pertaining to Gonchar's injury, said that recovery timeframe is especially accurate "for contact athletes."

Gonchar, 34, is an alternate captain and finished fourth last season in voting for the Norris Trophy, annually awarded to the NHL's top defenseman. He is the second-leading scorer at his position since 2000 and the point-man for a Penguins' power-play attack that has finished no lower than sixth in each of his three seasons with the club.

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