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The injury test may come now for the Maple Leafs

The announcement on Thursday that young Nazem Kadri may miss a couple of weeks (or more) with a twisted knee is not huge news, even in Leafland.  In the minds of many Leaf observers, it simply gives  Matt Frattin a clearer road to showcase himself for a while in the regular season to show he belongs.

When Kadri returns, he will no doubt get his chance, too.

But the more underlying reality facing the Leafs is something I’ve noted a number of times in the last few months.  That is that last season, when the Leafs made second-half noises and raised the temperature level a bit (and raised people’s hopes for the future as well) they were remarkably healthy.

Most teams, the ones the Leafs were competing with for playoff berths, like Montreal, faced enormous injury obstacles last season.  The Leafs did have to deal with Phaneuf’s leg injury for a few weeks, but I’m trying to think of where else the team felt the injury pinch in a prolonged, serious manner.  The issues around Gustavsson and Giguere simply opened the door for Reimer—and no one would argue that that worked out anything other than awfully well for the blue and white.

So as we fast forward to the present, the eve of the 2011-’12 regular season, it’s hard to project that the Leafs won’t find themselves facing some roster realities that will relate specifically to guys missing time for various injury-related issues.  Things tend to even out, it seems.

As I’ve often said here, you really do need to be about 10-deep on your blueline, for example, if you want to get through some playoff rounds.  And the Leafs now have depth that they haven’t had in some time on defence and across the roster, and that may well come in handy.

That said, what we don’t know is whether the depth will be sufficient if any serious injuries arise and key players are absent from the line up for extended periods of time. It’s one thing to have players ready to step in.  It’s another for the team to be able to move forward without missing a beat.

The point here simply being:  The Leafs were fortunate last season.  They may be again this season, when it comes to injuries. But chances are they will have to deal with some of what their competition faced a season ago.  And that’s when we will be better able to assess Burke’s work in building up the organizational depth chart.

I think we all understand that their margin for error this season is not that wide.  Last year’s good fortune may be this year’s hill to climb.


  1. It looks like we're going to get an early test. I think we'd all agree that the Leafs can't afford another early-season losing streak like the ones we've endured the last two seasons. Climbing out of that hole seems nearly impossible, barring a second half miracle run. (To be fair, we've almost pulled it off - but the operative word is "almost").
    I'm concerned that we seem to have Kessel, Bozak, Connolly, Brown, all at less than 100%, and Kadri out, to kick off our year. If we can survive that, it could bode well!

  2. Last season we were without Armstrong due to injury on 3 separate occasions. Due to injuries to his eye, hand, and foot, we were able to see what kind of an impact he actually has. While he may not score as many goals as some other forwards, our record with him in the lineup is better than it is without. Much like Phaneuf (less so towards the end of the season as he picked up his game), Armstrong has more of an impact than the scoresheet would suggest.

    I'm not saying we weren't lucky to avoid more injuries, just pointing out that there was another "significant" impact on the team due to injuries.

    Here's hoping that we get all our injuries out of the way during training camp.