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Leafs focus after pregame death

Posted: Monday, March 04, 2002

TORONTO (AP) -- The Toronto Maple Leafs tried to turn their attention to a crucial four-game road trip, one day after a pregame ceremony took a tragic turn.

Art Jackson, the nephew of former Maple Leafs player Harvey ''Busher'' Jackson, collapsed just as he was being introduced before Toronto's 3-3 tie with Buffalo on Saturday night during a ceremony that honored the top 25 players in team history.

While Frank Mahovlich, Darryl Sittler, Lanny McDonald and several other Toronto greats stood at center ice under the spotlights -- the main arena lights were down for the festivities -- Maple Leafs physician Dr. Michael Clarfield performed CPR on Jackson, but was unable to revive him. Jackson was 78.

''We are very saddened by the passing of Art Jackson,'' team president Ken Dryden said in a postgame release. ''There has been a long association between the Jackson family and the Toronto Maple Leafs. We hope the family finds the peace and strength they will need in the days ahead.''

Both teams returned to their dressing rooms as emergency medical attention was administered, and the game was delayed for 35 minutes. A crowd of 19,339 fans were in attendance.

''It was an awful thing,'' Maple Leafs coach and general manager Pat Quinn said in announcing Jackson's death after the game.

''We didn't know if we really wanted to play the game,'' Maple Leafs center Alyn McCauley said. ''Our condolences certainly go out to the family. It was a tough thing to have happen for what was supposed to be a special night.''

Now, the Maple Leafs try to focus on their road trip, which begins in Washington on Monday night. Toronto (32-19-6-4) is tied with Ottawa with 74 points -- two behind Northeast Division-leading Boston -- and will also play in Detroit on Wednesday, in Montreal on Saturday and in Philadelphia on Sunday.

The stretch comes at a bad time for Toronto, which is without starting goalie Curtis Joseph, who is out 6-to-8 weeks with a broken left hand.

Corey Schwab, who made 25 saves against the Sabres on Saturday night to earn his first point since taking over for Joseph, is trying not to put added pressure on himself.

''I feel I've got to step in right now, and I don't know how many games I'll get to play, but just provide solid goaltending, and not try to pretend I'm anybody I'm not,'' Schwab said. ''Cujo is one of the best goalies in the league, and I think it's a lot to ask to be as good as he is, but I'll try to do the best I can, and try to give the team a chance to win every night.''

Schwab won't let talk of Toronto possibly trying to acquire another goalie to bolster the position before the playoffs affect him.

''Whatever is going to happen in the future, whether they get another goalie or not, I'm behind it totally,'' Schwab said.

Defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich, who has a blood clot in his left leg, and forward Alexander Mogilny, who has an injured back, are also out indefinitely.



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