Politics

Help from above | Toronto Sun

Article content

The Maple Leafs are getting help from the National Hockey League for enough players in their potential return to game action on Wednesday.

Advertisement

Article content

As 18 of them resumed practice Sunday after the latest COVID-19 crisis saw five games cancelled, general manager Kyle Dubas and his peers were studying new directives from the league on temporary roster rule changes to aid in re-starting the schedule.

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

“Notwithstanding news on (the league allowing) a taxi squad, we don’t have any contracted players we can call up to meet the requirement (to host Pittsburgh),” Dubas said. “I think we’d be okay, maybe one or two short. We have to prepare like we’re going to play.”

Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Sunday night an agreement with the league and the players association is place until the early February all-star break to fill the holes once games are expected to resume Tuesday.

Advertisement

Article content

Clubs will have the option of a six-man taxi squad similar to the 2021 season, with no one to be on it more than 20 days. Ineligible to be placed there are those on an NHL roster as of Dec. 22 or who played in 16 of a team’s last 20 games through the 22nd. The squad is also waiver-exempt. Teams can have an additional goalie when two regulars are not available, to be in effect the rest of the regular season .

If a team can’t dress fewer than two goalies, six defencemen or 12 forwards on a game night, they’ll be permitted emergency recalls, with the cap hit at or below $1 million US.

All that would solve most Leafs’ problems. As one of the worst-affected COVID-19 teams,they worked out 11 forwards, five defencemen and two goalies at the Ford Performance Centre. Captain John Tavares was the first of 14 Leafs on the protocol list to be activated and Dubas indicated Mitch Marner will likely be fast-tracked off the Long Term Injury Reserve from a shoulder injury, owing to the pause in league play of more than 60 games so far.

Advertisement

Article content

But Jack Campbell and Petr Mrazek are still missing, leaving Joeph Woll the lone starting goalie. Also out for now are top defencemen Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie, with forward William Nylander.

Dubas expects forwards Alex Kerfoot, Jason Spezza and Wayne Simmonds to be cleared by Monday. Coach Sheldon Keefe and assistant Spencer Carbery are also sidelined for now, with assistants Dean Chynoweth and Manny Malholtra running Sunday’s 75-minute workout, the Leafs first since being shut down more than a week earlier. While other off-ice staffers are away indefinitely, Keefe could be back working by Tuesday.

Complicating matters for Dubas is that the Marlies have 24 players and five staffers in protocol, limiting whom the Leafs can activate, though the farm team has initiated its own return to play plan.

Advertisement

Article content

The Leafs added Muzzin to protocol on Sunday. Those who practised were Tavares, Marner, Auston Matthews, Michael Bunting, Ondrej Kase, Nick Ritchie, Pierre Engvall, Alex Steeves, Brett Seney and Joey Anderson, defencemen Justin Holl and Timothy Liljegren. The likely Taxi Squadders are Kyle Clifford up front, with Filip Kral, Carl Dahlstrom, Alex Biega on the blue line and Woll. Ian Scott, who is not officially cleared from an earlier AHL injury, was also in net Sunday.

More than 10 players and staffers who tested positive during the aborted Western road trip two weeks ago flew home from Vancouver a day after the main group. “I’ve checked on everybody in protocol and they seem to be doing well,’ Dubas said. “Some had symptoms at the beginning, whether it was night sweats, chills, sore throat, cough. One had loss of taste. Thankfully, all came through without long-term effect.”

Advertisement

Article content

We apologize, but this video has failed to load.

Tavares said he had head and body aches at first and lost some taste. When he finally got back to Toronto, he isolated at his cottage a few days.

“You don’t want to go into protocol, but you also know the world we’ve been in for a while,” he said. “I just tried to recover as quickly as possible and every day I’ve felt better. Eight or nine days off and travelling across the country, I knew I’d be feeling it today.”

Matthews and the others continued to test as the roster got thinner.

“The second practice in Vancouver when we started getting positives, it was just wait in your room,” he said of the uncertainty. “Hopefully, we can have a healthy roster and get those games back in at some point (in February).”

lhornby@postmedia.com

Advertisement

Comments

Postmedia is committed to maintaining a lively but civil forum for discussion and encourage all readers to share their views on our articles. Comments may take up to an hour for moderation before appearing on the site. We ask you to keep your comments relevant and respectful. We have enabled email notifications—you will now receive an email if you receive a reply to your comment, there is an update to a comment thread you follow or if a user you follow comments. Visit our Community Guidelines for more information and details on how to adjust your email settings.



Source link

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

close