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WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: MINNESOTA VS. MIGHTY DUCKS
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Fernandez Tries to Retain Focus

May 12, 2003|Dan Barreiro | Minneapolis Star Tribune

MINNEAPOLIS — Manny Fernandez got about two hours sleep Saturday night.

This was not the case of a frustrated goaltender tossing and turning after a heartbreaking, 1-0 double-overtime loss in the playoffs.

"I am a little tired," Fernandez admitted late Sunday afternoon as he left the Parade Ice Gardens after a short practice. "But I will tell you that I would much rather have had only a couple hours sleep [Saturday night] than had a full night's sleep and not do what I was able to do and go where I was able to go."

After Fernandez stopped 25 of 26 shots in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals at Xcel Energy Center, he didn't show up in the locker room long enough to talk with reporters.

Fernandez had quickly showered, dressed and been driven to a charter terminal at Twin Cities International. There, he got on a private jet and was flown to Montreal, where he was picked up and driven to a hospital.

Shortly before 11 p.m. EDT, he persuaded hospital officials to allow him to break the regular visitation rules. They quickly figured out that Fernandez was not going to leave without seeing a certain patient.

Only days before, doctors had told Marc Fernandez, Manny's 52-year-old father, that his arteries were 95% blocked. This would be the first face-to-face meeting between father and son since doctors had ordered triple-bypass surgery.

The operation is scheduled for Tuesday morning, only about 12 hours after Game 2 begins. If Manny, who flew back to Minnesota on Sunday in time for an optional practice, returns to the net tonight, it surely will not be easy to compartmentalize his thoughts.

"It will be hard not to think about what is happening, but I was able to concentrate on the job fairly well on Saturday," he said. "Actually, I feel a lot better about things today than I did a couple days ago. Because now, I was able to see my father and talk to him and to the doctors about what is exactly going on."

Marc, who investigates aircraft crashes for the Transportation Safety Board of Canada, went to see his doctor only days before, after complaining of soreness in his back. After a couple of tests, he was held overnight, and doctors discovered major arterial blockage issues.

Manny said he visited with his father, and talked about all the medical ramifications, and a little hockey, until close to 2 a.m. He returned to the hospital at 7 a.m. Sunday for another short visit with his dad.

"My brother is going to be there, and the doctor is very positive about the surgery.... " Manny said. "For me, it makes a big difference that I have seen him and we have talked. It makes me feel better about the situation."

*

Dan Barreiro can be reached at dbarreiro@startribune.com.

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