Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia


Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia

From Comcast SportsNetINDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Colts head coach Chuck Pagano is winning his battle with leukemia.On Monday, Dr. Larry Cripe, Pagano's physician, told The Associated Press that the illness which has sidelined Indy's head coach for more than a month was in "complete remission." Cripe said a morning exam showed Pagano's white blood cell count and bone marrow tests were normal as he prepares to start a second round of chemotherapy.The doctor explained patients typically undergo three rounds of treatment to wipe out any potentially lingering cancer cells. The second round of chemo is scheduled to start later this week and will last four to six weeks, Cripe said."His (blood cell) count was great," interim coach Bruce Arians told reporters after Pagano visited the team complex Monday. "He knows that this next one (round) is going to be really tough and we're praying for him, and he's going to be fine."The latest medical update came less than 24 hours after Pagano returned to Lucas Oil Stadium for the first time since he was diagnosed with a form of leukemia on Sept. 26. Pagano spent most of the next month in an Indianapolis hospital, watching two Colts games from his room. On Oct. 21, he returned home where he watched the next two Indy games. Doctors wanted to keep him in primarily sterile environments to avoid any risk of infection.On Sunday, Pagano cleared yet another hurdle when doctors allowed him to attend the Miami game in person. He watched the Colts win their third straight, 23-20, from the coaches' box and provided inspirational messages to players before and after the game."I've got circumstances. You guys understand it, I understand it. It's already beat. It's already beat," Pagano said during Sunday's postgame speech, hesitating to catch his breath a couple of times. "My vision that I'm living is to see two more daughters get married, dance at their weddings and then lift the Lombardi Trophy several times. I'm dancing at two more weddings and we're hoisting that trophy together, men. Congratulations, I love all of you."Pagano's appearance Sunday was a clear indication things were going well. Cripe confirmed that in his comments Monday.On the field, things have gone well for the Colts, too. Indy (5-3) is 4-1 since Arians, also a cancer survivor, was made interim coach and the sudden spate of success has put Indy back in the playoff discussion.But as the Colts continue to shock the NFL world, Pagano's health status continues to loom large.Team officials have hung signs reading (hash)Chuckstrong in each end zone of Lucas Oil Stadium. Reggie Wayne wore orange gloves for two games, the color designated to recognize leukemia, and Arians usually wears a button with an orange ribbon between the two sides of the horseshoe on his hat.It's unclear whether Pagano will return to full coaching duties this season, though Arians made it clear he hopes that happens."Once he comes back from Round 2 and is about to head into Round 3, our goal is for him to be on the sideline Dec. 30," Arians said, referring to Indy's regular-season finale against Houston."We know what's coming, the downhill slide is yet to come," Arians added. "To me it's kind of like talking to him about the playoffs this week; one day at a time, one play at a time. There's some down time coming, but it's great to see him here."

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

Haggerty: Subban looking more like a 1st-round bust than NHL goalie

BOSTON, Mass – Malcolm Subban says that he believes that he can still be a No. 1 goaltender in the NHL.

While that’s admirable on some level for the sheer, brazen self-confidence involved in saying this after getting yanked from a 5-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden, pretty much all of the evidence points out the contrary. Nearly two years after getting pulled from his NHL debut in against the St. Louis Blues after giving up three goals on six shots, Subban was pulled from Tuesday night’s appearance after giving up three goals on eight second period shots with the Bruins desperately in need of a quality start in goal.

He maintained a defiantly confident tone after another humbling NHL effort against Minnesota, and that’s a testament to the maturity and mental toughness of the person behind the goalie mask.

“It sucks. Obviously, I’m just trying to finish the game, let alone win one. Obviously it sucks, but what can you do now, right?” said Subban, who has now allowed six goals on 22 career shots faced in two starts. “Obviously I want to be a number one goaltender in the league. I was a high pick for a reason. I have the potential, and I just have to show it. Obviously I haven’t done that so far yet, but I think I’m getting closer to it. Honestly, I think I can do it right now. I just got to show it. Obviously, I didn’t [do it] today, but tomorrow’s a new day.”

Given the stunningly bad quality of his two NHL starts combined with a thoroughly pedestrian body of work at the AHL level over the last three years, there is literally zero tangible evidence Subban is tracking to be a franchise goaltender. Instead he’s the emergency goaltender called on by the Bruins only after Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin have both been shelved by injuries, and he’s now flunked the two pop quizzes when the NHL team needed him to come through.

Meanwhile, a sizeable selection of goaltenders taken after him in the 2012 NHL Draft class have already proven their NHL worth and broken through at the elite level: Matt Murray, Frederik Anderson, Connor Hellebuyck and Joonas Korpisalo.

Subban was hoping all along to break through this season in Boston, but things went south on him quickly with a Bruins team not playing well in front of him. The first goal was a fluttering Charlie Coyle shot that trickled between his glove hand and the top of his leg pad. The third goal was a softie low and to the glove side, power play strike authored by Ryan Suter. It added up to poor goaltending and shoddy defense, but it also added up to a Bruins goaltender that didn’t even give his hockey club a chance to win.

“It could be a combination of both. There are some goals – I’m not going to lie – there are some goals that we thought our goaltenders should have had. But I’m not here to talk about a goaltender who’s in one of his first few games because he let in a couple of bad goals,” said Julien. “We were terrible in front of him and we weren’t any better, and that’s the big picture. That’s more important.

“I don’t care who’s in net. I think when you have some injuries you need to be better in those situations and we weren’t good enough tonight. It doesn’t matter if Tuukka [Rask] is in net and we had injuries up front, or we’re lacking players here or there. You’ve got to let the system take care of the game. If you play it the right way, you have a chance to win. When you don’t, you don’t. That’s what happened [against Minnesota].”

There’s no question the defense in front of Subban wasn’t nearly good enough, and Adam McQuaid and Torey Krug in particular struggled to lock things down in the defensive zone. The wide open shots from the slot - like the Chris Stewart score in the second period that arrived 12 seconds after Minnesota’s opening goal - are indicative of a hockey club that’s not sticking to the game plan once things start to get a little wonky.

But this is about a player in Subban that should be entering the NHL stage of his career after being a first round pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, and anybody would be hard-pressed to see him as an NHL goalie after failing in each of his first two NHL starts. Combine that with the lack of dominance at the AHL level over the last three years, and there’s a better chance that Subban will be a major first round bust for the Bruins rather than suddenly develop into a late-blooming No. 1 goaltender in Boston.

The scary part is that Subban and fellow young netminder Zane McIntyre are all the Bruins have for Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden, and perhaps longer than that if Rask can’t make rapid progress with his lower body injury.

Maybe Subban can be a bit better than he’s shown thus far, and the four goals allowed to Minnesota were not all his fault. The bottom line, however, is that Subban should be up for doing this job right now. Tuesday was a big chance for the young goalie to make a statement that he was ready for it.

Instead he looked like the same goalie that’s been pulled from two of his first four AHL starts this season, and plays like a goaltender that’s never going to truly be ready for the call in Boston.