many Leafs on the course?
There's little question that the NHL has never seen anything quite like this week's PGA circus. But that's not to say that hockey hasn't seen its share of comebacks.
In fact, more than a few NHLers have made dramatic returns after an absence from their sport. Let's look back at some of the most memorable:
March 2, 1993 - After being diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma, Mario Lemieux returns to the Penguins' lineup. He goes on to capture the league scoring title and MVP award despite missing two full months, undergoing grueling radiation treatments, and being confined at all times to a hospital bed in rural Pittsburgh.
May 24, 2000 - After missing several months due to a career-threatening concussion, Eric Lindros returns to the lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers and immediately gets back to doing what he does best: suffering a career-threatening concussion.
March 4, 2010 - Lee Stempniak records a goal for the Phoenix Coyotes in his return to the NHL after a 16-month absence.
July 7, 2003 - Dominik Hasek announces his intention to return to the Detroit Red Wings after a one-year retirement. Or maybe he was trying to order a pizza. Nobody has ever really understood a word that guy said.
October 5, 2001 - Nearly 18 months after suffering a gruesome eye injury, Bryan Berard returns to the NHL has a member of the New York Rangers. Berard becomes the first NHLer to return to the league despite being declared legally blind since Kerry Fraser in 1993.
January 19, 2009 - The San Jose Sharks recall 43-year-old winger Claude Lemieux, six years after his retirement from the league. Lemieux tells reporters that he chose the Sharks for his comeback because of their need for a veteran presence, his friendship with general manager Doug Wilson, and the fact that he's really too old to be playing more than one playoff round.
September 19, 2009 - Theo Fleury scores in a pre-season shootout for Calgary after a seven-year absence from the NHL. His inspiring comeback attempt ends weeks later, when the Flames release him after realizing he is not a former Maple Leafs third-liner.
March 5, 2009 - Sean Avery returns to the NHL after a three month absence due to the most shocking and controversial sex scandal in NHL history; or, as the rest of the sports world would call it, a slightly off-color joke.
May 27, 1993 - In the midst of the Kings/Leafs conference final series, Wayne Gretzky makes a miraculous recovery from a career threatening case of piano-on-back.
April 9, 2002 - Canadiens' captain Saku Koivu makes his return after a seven-month battle with cancer. Montreal fans are so moved by his recovery that they give him an emotional eight-minute standing ovation, before immediately spilling out onto the street to smash hospital windows and set ambulances on fire.
October 5, 2005 - In a bizarre coincidence, every single player in the entire league returns to action after an identical one-year absence.
October 5, 2000 - Alexei Yashin returns to the Ottawa Senators lineup after holding out for an entire year. He goes on to have a mediocre regular season and then disappears in the playoffs, leading the hockey world to conclude that anyone who would trade for him now would have to be a complete idiot.