Go to the Globe and Mail homepage

Jump to main navigationJump to main content

Globe Sports

Leafs Beat

A blog on all things Toronto Maple Leafs

Entry archive:

(Chris Carlson)
(Chris Carlson)

Leafs-Devils preview

Lupul gets first taste of life as a Leaf Add to ...

One of his first acts as a member of the Toronto Maple Leafs was to send out a tweet, although Joffrey Lupul never expected what he said to get all that much attention.

His message was hardly all that newsworthy: "Clarke Mcarthur just txt me saying 'I'm gonna feed u so many one-timers ur gonna need off-season shoulder surgery.' Hillarious. I'm excited."

More related to this story

Even so, Lupul was asked about it early on in his first, giant media scrum in the Leafs dressing room today.

"I was just having fun," Lupul said. "We used to play together, in junior in Medicine Hat, we lived at the same billet and everything. I was surprised that was news."

Welcome to Toronto.

As mentioned in our piece on him today, Lupul has a lot to prove. Despite the fact he's not all that old, a few teams have given up on him already and he had a poor reputation from his tenure in Edmonton, in particular. There's also the injury concerns to deal with, as he hasn't played much hockey the past two seasons.

Many consider his addition to be more of a $4.25-million salary dump than anything, but it's clear from listening to Ron Wilson that the Leafs believe Lupul can contribute some offence - especially on the power play - which is a needed commodity for a team still near the NHL basement in goals per game.

Lupul will play on a line with former junior teammate Clarke MacArthur and centred by Tyler Bozak.

"We started to see this deal coming down [five or six days ago]and I was able to make some adjustments to our lines in anticipation of this happening," Wilson said. "I think for the beginning, you might as well play a guy who he's familiar with from the past. Hopefully we can blend him in and get him feeling at home right away."

Lupul again continued to face a lot of questions about his health, and he detailed what exactly went wrong when his back issues caused him to miss nearly a year of hockey and lose 35 pounds.

He was getting numbness down his right leg and had a fairly routine procedure to alleviate the nerves along his spine. When it didn't solve the problem the first time, he had it done again, and he developed an infection in the bone that took a long time to get rid of.

Lupul was on intravenous antibiotics for two months only to have the infection return and have to start again.

"It was a lot of time in bed," he said. "There was a lot of days, five, six, seven months after my second surgery when I still wasn't back training. It was kind of an eye-opener. At first, I just felt fortunate to be back playing and now I've switched my focus from happy to be here to let's get back on track and become the type of player that I can be.

"I've been feeling better and better each week," he added. "The first couple of games, after a year off, you kind of ease your way into it a little bit."

Now that he's passed that stage, Lupul is hoping he can help Toronto re-enter the playoff race.

"After the trade happened, that was the first thing I looked at was how far out we are," Lupul said. "Eight points, it's obviously not an ideal situation, but it's by no means over ... That's exciting to still be in the race. Because I know for a while here, the past couple months, it wasn't looking so good."

Lupul didn't take part in the morning skate because the deal was waiting on Francois Beauchemin, who was sent to the Anaheim Ducks in the deal, to complete his physical. That's considered only a formality, but it prevented Lupul from taking the ice until tonight.

He took and passed his physical at 10 p.m. last night after arriving in Toronto.

"I'm anxious right now," Lupul said. "I would have liked to skate. In a perfect world, I would have tested out this new equipment and things like that. That's all it is. Excitement. Maybe closer to game time I'll get a little nervous, but I just want to get out there for the first one."

Given he's been traded twice for Chris Pronger already, Lupul joked he was relieved that wasn't the case again.

"That was my initial thought," he said. "Hopefully I can make it through the deadline here with him still in Philly."

Notebook

- Leafs centre John Mitchell cleared waivers and is on his way down to the minors to make way for defenceman Keith Aulie on the blueline. Toronto is gungho on Aulie's potential and will throw him right into the fire into Beauchemin's role alongside Dion Phaneuf. "It's going to be tough to replace Beauch's minutes obviously," Wilson said. "But we think that Keith's going to be a real good player."

- Given he would require re-entry waivers to come back up, that may be the last we see of Mitchell in Toronto.

- James Reimer will get the start tonight against the Devils, while J-S Giguere is expected to start Saturday in Montreal.

- Tomas Kaberle will wear the 'A' that Beauchemin had had all season. No surprise there. Any other choice would have invited controversy.

- In case you missed it, Kris Versteeg commented on all of the trade rumours around him of late.

Leafs lineup

Kulemin - Grabovski - Kessel MacArthur - Bozak - Lupul Versteeg - Boyce - Armstrong Rosehill - Brent - Sjostrom/Crabb

Aulie - Phaneuf Kaberle - Schenn Gunnarsson/Lebda - Komisarek

Reimer

Devils lineup (based on last game)

Kovalchuk - Zajac - Palmieri Elias - Zubrus - Rolston Tedenby - Arnott - Zharkov Clarkson - Pelley - Sestito

Fayne - Tallinder Greene - Salmela Volchenkov** - White

Hedberg

**- Volchenkov is suspended and will be replaced by Mark Fraser.

Follow on Twitter: @mirtle

 

In the know

Most popular video »

Highlights

More from The Globe and Mail

Most Popular Stories