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File-The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Tim Connolly. Harry How/Getty Images
File-The Toronto Maple Leafs have signed Tim Connolly. Harry How/Getty Images

Connolly's injury 'more signficant' than first thought Add to ...

It hardly came as a surprise at this point.

Tim Connolly, the Toronto Maple Leafs biggest signing in the off-season, told media after Thursday's practice that his undisclosed upper-body injury is worse than initially believed and he's past the point of being day-to-day.

More like week-to-week.

In other words, don't expect to see Connolly in a game until late next week or longer.

More related to this story

"I know it's been day-to-day for a while, but it's a little bit more signficant than initially expected," Connolly said. "You can probably tell by the practices. I've been going out early and just getting a conditioning skate in. Haven't really been handling the puck or shooting. Right now, I just have to let it heal. It's a time thing. I couldn't give you a time frame."

What "it" is hasn't been reported by the team, as Connolly said he's worried the injury could be targeted by other teams when he returns to the lineup. He crashed into the boards in practice midway through training camp, but says it wasn't his head or neck that was hurt.

It's widely believed he suffered a badly bruised or strained shoulder, which is why stickhandling is a problem.

Connolly's been seeing doctors regularly about the injury, and it simply hasn't been healing like they wanted. That said, he insisted surgery isn't an option.

"Whether it's a week or two weeks before I'm playing, I couldn't tell you," Connolly said. "It's nothing serious where it can be nagging me throughout the season. I have to give it time, from the doctors' standpoint, to let it heal. And then I should be ready to go within a few days of [having]contact ... We gave it a hard go for a few days and that's when we knew it was just going to be a little bit longer when we got to this week.

"There's nothing required for surgery."

Connolly said he isn't frustrated by the situation, but he declined to talk with the media the past few days and has to be tired of the questions regarding his health. He's missed nearly 200 games since the 2004-05 lockout and has become a focal point for many here in the media because of it, so this injury is obviously ill-timed on that front.

Without knowing the extent of the injury, however, it seems unfair to Connolly to brand him as anything other than another injured player trying to get back in the lineup.

The Leafs couldn't have expected they'd get a full 82 games out of him anyway.

Here's audio from Connolly's scrum with reporters today:

Notebook

- A lot of the Leafs work in practice was on special teams. The two new assistant coaches appear to be taking the lead, with Scott Gordon handling the power play and Greg Cronin working on the penalty kill. The power play, in particular, looks as though it'll be really aggressive, with three forwards and a defenceman pushing deep into the zone.

- Nazem Kadri remains day-to-day with his knee strain and expects to be back within a week. It remains likely that he starts the season with the Toronto Marlies, however.

- Coach Ron Wilson said he isn't sure when backup Jonas Gustavsson will start a game, although with four games in six nights beginning Saturday, one assumes he'll get in soon. "I haven't thought beyond the next game to be honest. I don't have a plan or anything like that as to what games who gets. You just have to work hard in practice and we'll always tell the goalie the day before who's playing."

- All this time off so early in the year is getting to the team a little bit, as today was the fourth practice day in a row with another one coming tomorrow in advance of Saturday's game against the Calgary Flames. "I'm looking forward to the games," Wilson said. "I'm like the players. After a while, I don't want to practice either. The fun part's the games."

The Leafs likely lineup for Saturday:

MacArthur - Grabovski - Kulemin Lupul - Bozak - Kessel Frattin - Lombardi - Armstrong Steckel - Dupuis - Brown

Gunnarsson - Phaneuf Liles - Schenn Komisarek - Franson

Reimer

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