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Vancouver Province article (Tough break for Canada's Schwartz)

December 31 2010 at 8:42 AM
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N. W. Bruin  (Login NW_Bruin_GM)

Tough break for Canada's Schwartz

Forward done due to broken ankle but mind is on sister's cancer battle

Postmedia December 31, 2010

Jaden Schwartz was injured in Tuesday's 7-2 win over Czechs. Team Canada plays Sweden today.

Photograph by: Reuters Files, Postmedia

Jaden Schwartz bowed his head, down toward the floor and the walking cast he was wearing over his broken ankle, and he exhaled heavily.

And then, with a little help, he navigated his crutches onto a riser and publicly bade farewell to the world junior hockey championship.

It was not easy, but then December has not been easy.

A snowstorm stranded the 18-year-old forward in Minneapolis when he should have been in Toronto earlier this month, checking into Canada's junior team selection camp. He had to fight to make the team, and days after they told him he made it, he learned his older sister, Mandi, had suffered another setback in her battle with cancer.

"I wanted to be here more than anything," he said. "I know my family wanted to be here, and especially my sister. It was a dream come true to make this team, and for me to not be able to play in it, it's obviously very, very tough."

Schwartz broke his ankle on Tuesday, during an awkward collision in the first period of Canada's game against the Czech Republic. Nobody in the building knew at the time, of course, but they could see he was in agony, pacing back and forth behind the bench.

He returned a few shifts later and scored a goal, on the power play, to give the Canadians their first lead of the game. They emerged with a 7-2 win that night, but lost Schwartz.

The MRI was on Wednesday, and the news was delivered on Thursday.

"I knew it was really, really painful," he said, after receiving the diagnosis. "I didn't know what it was. I knew something was wrong, but I didn't think it would be this."

Schwartz had been skating on Canada's first line, with leading scorer Brayden Schenn at centre and Louis Leblanc on the other wing. He was also a fixture on the top power-play unit, stationed at the point for what had become a dangerous unit.

Canadian head coach Dave Cameron said he has not decided who will fill either hole. He cannot recall any of the players he sent home during the selection camp earlier this month because rosters were frozen on Dec. 25, and tournament rules

only allow for a goaltender to be recalled in case of emergency.

Schwartz, who is from Wilcox, Sask., said he will remain with the team.

"There's people in the world going through worse things than I am," he said. "So I'll keep that in the back of my mind."

He had not called his sister by Thursday afternoon, only his parents.

Schwartz expected his parents would update Mandi, if she had not already heard it for herself.

A forward on Yale University's women's hockey team, Mandi Schwartz was diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia in her junior year two years ago. She spent the better part of a year living in Seattle, receiving treatment. She underwent a 32-minute stem cell transplant on Sept. 22. A biopsy on Dec. 13 revealed a setback; that the cancer had returned. It was her third relapse this year.

"With Mandi, it changes your perspective on life," Jaden Schwartz said Thursday. "When someone that important in your life gets sick with cancer, you realize what's important."

Some reports suggested Schwartz would be sidelined for up to six weeks with the injury, which was never explicitly detailed as a broken ankle by the team. The winger wore the protective boot on his left foot among widespread reports of a fracture.

He had 11 goals and 15 assists in 17 games with his U.S. college team, Colorado College. The St. Louis Blues selected him 14th overall in the NHL entry draft earlier this year.

"In my profession, you meet a lot of good people," Cameron said. "And every once in a while, you meet an extraordinary kid. He's an extraordinary kid, and he'll be missed, big time."

© Copyright (c) The Province

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