Look, if Joffrey Lupul doesn’t take a more official step to play hockey, it doesn’t mean that he was totally bluffing in his since-deleted Instagram complaint about his failed physical with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It could just mean that Lupul doesn’t want to jump through the hoops needed to make it happen.
Still, the option is out there, whether it’s an unpleasant route or not. And Lupul wouldn’t have much time to make something happen.
Multiple reporters note that the CBA allows Lupul, 33, to seek a second medical opinion regarding his failed physical, which would land him on the Leafs’ LTIR.
Again, though, he wouldn’t have long to make that decision; TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Lupul’s deadline is Thursday at 5 p.m. ET.
Now, he could theoretically go that route, but note that getting the decision overturned doesn’t necessarily guarantee Lupul a whole lot. TSN’s Bob McKenzie doubts that Lupul will go for it because, even if deemed healthy enough to play, the Maple Leafs might just demote him to the AHL, anyway.
Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston goes deep on this issue here – including how Lupul might truly feel about his situation – while noting that the Maple Leafs, as an organization, are generally going the “no comment” route.
Johnston also quotes former teammates who believe that Lupul isn’t ready to hang up his skates just yet.
“I think he wants to play hockey and I think he believes he still has the ability to play hockey,” Tyler Bozak said. “It’s something I think he’s striving for.”
If Lupul’s Instagram beef ends up being fruitless, there’s another option, even if it’s not the most appetizing. Lupul could stay in shape to the best of his ability over the next year, and then try to land a spot on an NHL roster next summer, as his current contract expires after 2017-18.
That would amount to a lot of time away from NHL rinks, yet we’ve seen similar situations before, even if it would mean accepting a PTO like Ryan Malone surprisingly did this summer.
Overall, it’s understandable that Lupul is frustrated. There’s only so much he can do about it, really, and his current option might not really open the doors he wants to walk through, anyway.
It makes you wonder if issues like his might be part of the next CBA discussions.