Dogged by injuries last season, Joffrey Lupul seemed to be fine over the summer.
He worked with Toronto Maple Leafs skating instructor Barb Underhill and Anaheim Ducks strength and conditioning coach Sean Skahan and went to training camp hoping to participate. Instead, back spasms prevented Lupul from being cleared to skate on the first day of on-ice activities.
“He’s had some back issues before, so we don’t think it’s anything long term,” coach Randy Carlyle said. “It’s just precautionary measures to make sure that he’s 100 per cent.”
Carlyle said that Lupul’s back tightened up Tuesday, the day before players reported to take physicals.
Like Lupul, enforcer Colton Orr was not cleared and is expected to be off the ice for a week. Orr, who played 44 games last season and had a league-high 155 penalty minutes, has a bone bruise on his leg.
Lupul is entering the first year of a US$26.25-million contract. The 29-year-old left-winger missed all but 16 regular-season games last year because of a broken right arm and a concussion.
Carlyle didn’t appear to be overly worried about Lupul’s absence, but he didn’t brush it off either.
“There’s always concern when a player gets hurt. It’s one of those things that he looked extremely well coming up to camp, and it’s unfortunate that this thing happened,” Carlyle said. “He’s put a lot of work in over the summer and looked very energized and very, very fit to come and play, but injuries are all part of it.”
Neither Lupul nor Orr spoke to reporters Thursday.
Defensive prospects Matt Finn and Kenny Ryan also did not skate. Finn suffered a shoulder injury over the weekend at the rookie tournament the Maple Leafs hosted in London, Ont.