Leafs training camp opens tomorrow and Joffrey Lupul will not take the ice. An article by TSN reveals that Lupul failed his physical last week.
Lupul’s struggles with injuries have already been well documented. He has not played more than 70 games in a season since 2008-09, where he appeared in 79 games with the Flyers. Last season, he played just 46 games before undergoing season ending hernia surgery in February. This happened despite the efforts Lupul took in the offseason to stay healthy:
If his form has looked impressive in the estimation of head coach Mike Babcock, perhaps it hasn’t hurt that Lupul arrived in Toronto carrying more muscle than he ever has before, weighing in at 216 pounds. The hope, said Lupul, is that the extra mass packed onto his lower body and torso will have him “just stay healthy throughout the year.”
Lupul is the second highest paid player on the Leafs behind permanent IR resident Nathan Horton. Stephane Robidas, the Leafs’ other permanently injured player, was placed on the IR at the end of last season’s training camp and has not played since—a move that could have been motivated either a desire to open up playing time for younger players or genuine inability to play, depending on who you ask.
It’s possible that this move is about the Leafs front office wanting to clear up a roster spot for someone they can develop, too. The difference between Lupul and Robidas, though, is that Lupul still appears to be an effective, albeit significantly overpaid, player while Robidas looked dreadful in his only season as a Leaf.
Lupul had many great moments as a Leaf—that season he played alongside Phil Kessel in 2011-12 stands out to me in particular. He has two years left on the contract and I hope he makes it back onto the ice. It would be a shame to see his career end like this.
He is not expected to address the media on Thursday when camp opens.