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Holan Gets a Warm Reception

Hockey: Fans at the Pond salute his ongoing recovery from leukemia.


ANAHEIM — Milos Holan walked to center ice Friday, a hockey puck in his hand, cheers ringing in his ears.

A tremendous show of support from family, friends, teammates and people he has never met carried him through a seven-month hospital stay after he underwent a marrow transplant Feb. 21.

And it continued during Holan's first visit to the Pond since the transplant. Holan received a standing ovation from the sellout crowd of 17,174 when he was introduced before the Ducks played the Kings.

"It's a nice feeling to know somebody cares about you and wants to see you again," said Holan, who left the City of Hope National Medical Center in Duarte on Sept. 20.

"When I came to the hospital, I read a lot of material about leukemia, but when I saw people dying all around me, that's what scared me the most. Without my wife [Irena], I couldn't do it. She supported me 24 hours a day when my spirit was down.

"I got lots of greeting cards and letters from the whole world every day."

Holan, a 25-year-old defenseman from the Czech Republic, said he had hoped to attend opening night at the Pond on Oct. 16, but was still too weak to make the trip.

At this stage, he isn't thinking of returning to play for the Ducks. He's simply happy to be out of the hospital at last.

Holan lost 60 pounds during his hospital stay and had several set-backs due to infections and complications from the transplant. Holan had a stomach disorder, numbness in his legs and hands and his gall bladder removed. Three times per week, he attends physical therapy sessions to improve his strength.

"He's extremely stable," said Craig Milhouse, Duck team doctor. "He's in remission. . . . Five years is the standard rule with most cancers and that's the way you look at it with this.

"I can tell you there were some bumps in the road, but Milos is standing here and that's the important thing. There's some residual weakness, but that's going to be addressed by the physical therapy.

"He wanted to come on opening night, but was still weak and didn't feel up to it. No one pushed him to come back."

Players from the Kings and Ducks tapped their sticks on the ice or on the boards in front of the benches in a show of appreciation when Holan was introduced to the crowd.

"I'm happy I can be here and see you guys again," Holan told the fans. "Hockey is so much a part of my life. Thank you."

Team captains Paul Kariya of the Ducks and Rob Blake of the Kings took the ceremonial opening face-off when Holan dropped the puck.

During his first meeting with reporters since the transplant, Holan called Friday his happiest day in 15 months, since learning he had been diagnosed with chronic granulocytic leukemia during training camp last season.

Since leaving the hospital, Holan has been spending time at home with his wife and children, Veronica and Milos Jr. Milos Jr. was born while his father was hospitalized.

Holan also been eating as much as possible in order to regain the lost weight. "I eat too much," said Holan, who weighs 137 pounds. "I can go to the shopping mall whenever I like because I need many new clothes because I lost so much weight."

There was one more question before Holan left to visit with his teammates and the coaching staff in the dressing room.

Somebody asked Holan what the Ducks need to shore up their weak defense.

"They need me," Holan said.

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