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Lemieux will undergo therapy, traction for back

PITTSBURGH - Mario Lemieux, his 46-game scoring streak stopped by a bad back rather than a bad game, will undergo therapy and traction the next few days, but may need season-ending surgery if he doesn't improve, his physician said Thursday. Dr. Charles Burke said even if Lemieux does respond to traction, the earliest he could play again is next Tuesday against Philadelphia.

"Hopefully, the (treatment) will get him back to where he was a few days ago," Burke said. "We're going to wait several days and see how he responds. If he's unable to play, we'll probably seek the second opinion and potentially, yes, he could have the surgery."

Surgery to remove a herniated disc is routine and would not be

career-threatening, Burke said.

But Surgery is a last resort because at least six weeks of recovery are required - and, for a hockey player, possibly even longer, Burke said.

"It's hard to say whether this is the end of the season or a setback for a game or two," Burke said. "But, at this moment, surgery is not what we're considering."

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