Leafs’ Gardiner out at least another week with concussion-like symptoms

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Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Gardiner, currently plying his trade with the AHL Marlies, will miss at least another week of action with concussion-like symptoms.

(Even though the club won’t say he’s suffered a concussion.)

That’s what Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins told the Toronto Sun on Tuesday, a few days after news broke that Gardiner suffered a head/neck injury on Dec. 8 against Rochester.

Eakins said that because of the Marlies’ schedule and upcoming AHL holiday break, Gardiner won’t be able to return to action anytime soon.

“The way the schedule has played out [three games in four days starting Wednesday in Cleveland], we have a certain medical protocol we have to follow with Jake,” Eakins explained. “We can’t sway from it. He hasn’t been on the ice, he has to get into a full contact practice and that’s just not going to happen the way our schedule is.

“He can’t play until we ramp him up in practice. And we play right after the break [Dec. 26 vs. Hamilton] so he can’t play that one.”

Gardiner could return for a pair of back-to-back games against Grand Rapids on Dec. 28-29, but would need to pass whiplash and/or concussion tests (not that he has a concussion.)

The Marlies are preaching caution in this situation — Gardiner is one of the Maple Leafs’ brightest prospects — but are likely pining to get him back in the lineup.

Gardiner has been an offensive force this season, tallying nine goals and eight assists in 22 games. The Leafs have high hopes for the 22-year-old who was acquired, along with Joffrey Lupul, from Anaheim in 2011 for François Beauchemin.