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Minnesota Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom to undergo hip surgery

The Canadian Press
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Minnesota Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom (32), from Finland, makes a save in Edmonton, Alberta, March 29, 2009. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jimmy Jeong Author: The Hockey News

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Minnesota Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom to undergo hip surgery

The Canadian Press
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ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Wild all-star goalie Niklas Backstrom will have surgery to remove two cysts in his left hip that caused problems with his groin muscles and affected his mechanics in the net this season.

The procedure will keep Backstrom out for three to six months.

Acting general manager Tom Lynn said he expects Backstrom to be recovered in time for training camp in mid-September, provided Dr. Marc Philippon doesn't find any red flags. Backstrom's age and condition, Lynn said, make it more likely he'll need closer to the minimum recovery time.

Backstrom sought several sources of advice, but agreed to have the surgery now rather than risk a greater need for it at a less convenient time.

"We decided the best course was to get this fixed and have him ready for next season," Lynn said in a conference call with reporters from Houston, where he's with Minnesota's minor league team.

Backstrom started 71 of 82 games and went 37-24-8. His .923 save percentage ranked fifth in the NHL during the regular season. His 2.33 goals-against average was third in the league, but he played through pain down the stretch and frequently skipped practices to preserve his strength while the Wild unsuccessfully chased a playoff spot. Backstrom began feeling the most discomfort in late January.

The injury was from wear and tear, not from a collision.

"The joint's like a bar of soap," Lynn said. "It is going to wear down; it isn't going to replace itself. You just don't know how quickly."

The operation will be performed Friday in Vail, Colo., by Philippon, the same surgeon who operated on the hip of New York Yankees star Alex Rodriguez in March. Philippon also did Wild forward Marian Gaborik's hip surgery in January, though Gaborik's injury was different.

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Minnesota Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom to undergo hip surgery