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Leafs' Franson fortunate to avoid serious eye injury

Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Cody Franson celebrates his goal in front of teammate defenseman Carl Gunnarsson (L) during the second period of their NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals in Toronto November 19, 2011. REUTERS/Mike Cassese

Mike Cassese/Reuters

Cody Franson may not play for the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday against the Philadelphia Flyers but he considers himself a "fortunate" man.

That's because he came this close to not being able to play for a long, long time when teammate Tim Connolly's stick got under Franson's visor and poked him in the left eye. The butt end of Connolly's stick came up during a scrum in Wednesday's loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins and left him momentarily blind.

Franson said Connolly lost his balance and by a "fluke" his stick came up at just the right angle to get under the visor on his helmet. The stick "pushed my eyeball right in. But I got lucky."

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The Leaf defenceman said he couldn't see anything for "15 to 20 seconds" and then experienced triple vision. "It was almost like that don't drink and drive commercial where you see the three glasses."

However, there was no bleeding in his eye and the triple vision quickly became double vision and then normal vision. By Thursday, Franson was told by a doctor he "should be all right."

Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said Franson will be available to play Saturday but stopped short of saying he'll be in the lineup. At this point it looks like Franson will sit and Luke Schenn, who was a healthy scratch on Wednesday, will dress.

Schenn's fourth NHL season is not going well and Carlyle said he had a chat with the 22-year-old Friday morning. Carlyle said when he coached the Anaheim Ducks he remembers Schenn continually challenging forward Corey Perry, something he has not seen since taking the Leafs job.

"[The talk]was based on his getting back to being a physical, hard-to-play-against defenceman," Carlyle said. "He has to be more challenging to opposing players physically."

Forward Colby Armstrong, who sustained a broken nose on Tuesday against the Boston Bruins, will be able to play Saturday, albeit with a full cage on his helmet. Winger Mike Brown is out for a week to 10 days with a contusion on his thigh.

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About the Author
Hockey columnist

A native of Wainfleet, Ont., David Shoalts joined The Globe in 1984 after working at the Calgary Herald, Calgary Sun and Toronto Sun. He graduated in 1978 from Conestoga College and also attended the University of Waterloo. More

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