This being the age of social media, there should be no surprise about how Matt Frattin found out his life was about to change.
“I found out he got hurt on Twitter,” the newest Toronto Maple Leaf said about his unfortunate teammate Joffrey Lupul, who will be out of the lineup for up to six weeks with a broken arm after he was hit by a shot from Leaf captain Dion Phaneuf during Wednesday night’s 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
“You find out everything on Twitter,” Frattin said with a smile.
Frattin was in Cleveland with the Toronto Marlies on Wednesday night, as they were preparing to play the Lake Erie Monsters in an American Hockey League game. A few hours after Frattin saw the tweet about Lupul, Marlies head coach Dallas Eakins told him he was headed to the big club and the NHL.
So, instead of suiting up with the Marlies on Thursday, Frattin caught a morning flight to Toronto where he will take his place with the Leafs for Thursday’s game at the Air Canada Centre against the New York Islanders.
After the Leafs’ optional game-day skate Thursday, Frattin still did not know which line he will play on or even which wing but those were not big concerns. Not when you just landed your dream job after being one of the last two cuts by the Leafs when training camp ended last Friday.
“I like playing both sides,” Frattin, 25, said. “Wherever they need filled in is fine with me.”
A week ago, it looked like Frattin was close to nailing down a job with the Leafs. He appeared to be playing well and was coming off a strong playoff showing last spring with the Marlies, which ended with a knee injury.
However, Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle issued a warning a day before the NHL roster deadline when he praised the play of centre Nazem Kadri and said Frattin’s play was inconsistent.
Frattin still isn’t sure why he did not have a solid training camp but he is sure it had nothing to do with any residual effects from last spring’s knee injury. “I think my left leg is stronger than my right leg,” he said.
As for training camp, “I was mentally strong,” Frattin said. “I felt really good through camp. But to earn a spot at this level you have to be strong every day.”
Carlyle was not clear after the morning skate about Frattin’s place in the lineup. “He’s an offensive player,” Carlyle said, which could mean he would simply take Lupul’s place on the top line with Phil Kessel and centre Tyler Bozak, although that would be quite a stretch for a young player coming from the AHL.
Since this is the second of back-to-back, road and home games, goaltender James Reimer will get a rest after Wednesday’s fine performance against the Penguins and Ben Scrivens will get his third start of the season against the 1-1 Islanders.
The game will be a reunion of sorts for Frattin, Scrivens, Kadri and a couple of other Leafs who played with forward Keith Aucoin on the Marlies this season. The veteran was brought in this season to work with the AHL youngsters and was the Marlies leading scorer this season with 37 points in 34 games. But he was lost on waivers last week when the Islanders claimed him.
Scrivens and the other Leafs were happy to see Aucoin, 34, get another shot at the NHL.
“He’s a great guy,” Scrivens said. “Toronto only brings in quality people and having a veteran guy like him help on the Marlies was great.”