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Ciccarelli decides to have surgery

Dino Ciccarelli wants to straighten things out. He will start with his arm.

Ciccarelli left the team Thursday for Detroit, where on Saturday he is scheduled for arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow. He is expected to be out no more than two weeks, but would miss seven games if out that long.

"I can't play like this anymore," Ciccarelli said before flying to Detroit. He still is unable to straighten his badly swollen right arm. "It's been like this for three weeks now. . . . Enough's enough."

The right wing and future Hall of Famer has been bothered by the stiff joint since mid-October, when he missed a game at Florida. An MRI revealed one floating bone chip inside the joint and two chips outside. But rather than have surgery then Ciccarelli was encouraged to treat the elbow with a cortisone shot.

"I just thought, "It's going to go away,' " said Ciccarelli, who has only three goals in 13 games. "But it's not."

So Red Wings team physician David Collon will perform the surgery on Ciccarelli, an ex-Red Wing who wishes he had surgery sooner.

"In hindsight I should have done it then," Ciccarelli said before the Lightning, on a 10-game winless streak, played Los Angeles. "But with the way things have been going for the team, I didn't want to miss any games.

"It's not management's fault. (Lightning GM) Phil (Esposito) obviously wanted me to play, but ultimately it's my decision. If I wanted to get it done, I would have said, "Let's get it done.' "

Ciccarelli, the team's top goal scorer last season, made the decision while playing Wednesday: "It was hard to even hold the stick. I can't play my game. I can't play physical, I can't shoot or get in front of the net. I just can't play like this."

MALLETTE UPDATE: Fearful he might have had a career-threatening injury, LW Troy Mallette sought a second opinion from renowned specialist Dr. Robert Watkins.

"He is the best spine surgeon in the country," team trainer Curtis Bell said of Watkins, the Los Angeles-based doctor who last season performed surgery on goalie Daren Puppa.

Watkins had good news for Mallette, out with two herniated discs in his neck since an Oct. 23 fight with Boston's Ken Baumgartner. "Long-term prognosis (is Watkins) would not disallow Mallette to play in the future," Bell said.

Tests revealed Mallette had a narrow spinal column, a congenital condition that puts a person at risk for paralysis. Rather than suggest retirement, Watkins sent Mallette to Tampa to begin an intensive rehabilitation program and recommended spinal fusion surgery. Mallette, likely out for the season, is considering surgery.

"With the game he plays and the position he plays, he is more susceptible to . . . injury," Bell said. "And Troy does have a smaller-than-usual spinal column, but that in and of itself would not disqualify him from playing _ as long as he is in the best shape possible.

"The big question is if with a big enough hit he could become (paralyzed). (Watkins) didn't think that was a big concern. The surgery: That's gonna be up to Troy. (Watkins) said if he were not an NHL player, he would not recommend it. The big thing is he has to strengthen his entire spinal column, strengthen his abdominal muscles, strengthen his neck and improve his range of motion."

MISCELLANY: With Ciccarelli and Mallette out, Esposito said he plans to promote either tough guy Louie DeBrusk or wing Brent Peterson from the IHL. One likely will join the team in San Jose for Saturday's game. . . . Esposito said recently fired assistant coach Dave MacQueen has not decided whether he will take the scouting job offered to him. Windsor of Ontario Hockey League has requested permission to speak with the ex-junior coach. . . . D David Shaw, out Wednesday with back spasms, played Thursday.