Thursday was a good news, bad news sort of day in Toronto.
On the good, Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle announced rookie d-man Morgan Rielly would stick with the club for the season, rather than be dispatched back to WHL Moose Jaw.
“He’s earned the opportunity to be part of our group,” Carlyle explained, as per TSN.
Rielly, 19, has appeared in eight games for the Leafs this year, notching four assists while averaging over 18 minutes per night. Though he’s posted a minus-3 rating and has been a healthy scratch, Rielly has shown enough to stick with Toronto for the duration of the 2013-14 campaign.
So that’s the good.
The bad is that All-Star forward Joffrey Lupul, who hobbled off the ice during Thursday’s practice, didn’t return. Lupul took a puck off the foot (Carlyle appeared perturbed Lupul wasn’t wearing a shot blocker on his skates) and was headed for X-rays, according to TSN’s Jonas Siegel.
Lupul, 30, currently sits second on the team in scoring with six goals and 10 points in 10 games. But, as has often been the case with Lupul, injury threatens to derail a successful campaign — last year he missed extensive time with a concussion and broken forearm; the year prior, he was sidelined with a separated shoulder.
Those who feel as though the Boston Bruins may rebound – John Tortorella, maybe? – likely rest some of their optimism on the back of a healthy Zdeno Chara.
It’s possible that he’s merely limping into what may otherwise be a healthy 2015-16 season, but it’s definitely looking like a slow start thanks to a lower-body injury.
The latest sign of a bumpy beginning came on Monday, as several onlookers (including CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty) pointed out that Chara was listed on injured reserve.
As Haggerty notes, that move is retroactive to Sept. 24, so his status really just opens up options for the Bruins.
Still … it’s a little unsettling, isn’t it?
The Bruins likely realize that they need to transition away from their generational behemoth, but last season provided a stark suggestion that may not be ready yet. Trading Dougie Hamilton and losing Dennis Seidenberg to injury only make them more dependent on the towering 38-year-old.
This isn’t really something to panic about, yet it might leave a few extra seats open on the Bruins’ bandwagon.
Zack Kassian may have avoided major injuries stemming from his Sunday car accident, but it likely sent the signal that he may need help.
The response: he was placed in Stage Two of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program (SABH) of the NHL and NHLPA on Monday.
According to the league’s release, Kassian “will be suspended without pay until cleared for on-ice competition by the program administrators.”
Speaking of being suspended without pay, here’s a key detail:
The 24-year-old ended up with a broken nose and broken foot from that accident. The 2015-16 season was set to be his first campaign in the Montreal Canadiens organization after a tumultuous time with the Vancouver Canucks.
Kassian spoke of becoming more mature heading to Montreal, but the Canadiens were critical of his actions, wondering how many wake-up calls someone can get.
In case you’re wondering about the difference between stage one and two: