Mirtle: Carlyle not prepared to call Lupul injury a concussion

TORONTO — The Globe and Mail

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul tries to make it to the bench after taking a hard hit while playing against the Philadelphia Flyers during first period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Thursday, April 4, 2013. (Nathan Denette/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The hit was replayed over and over after the game, with Toronto Maple Leafs winger Joffrey Lupul struggling to find his way to the bench door after getting crunched in the corner by two Philadelphia Flyers.

He appeared to have the telltale signs of a head injury and that’s a reasonable concern given how hard of a hit it was and Lupul's concussion history.

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After Thursday’s game, however, Leafs coach Randy Carlyle said Lupul “feels fine now” and was 50-50 to practice the next day.

But he wasn’t on the ice when practice began at 11 a.m., leading to a question from the media as to if the “upper-body injury” was in fact a concussion.

“No that’s a bad word,” Carlyle said. “We don’t use that word until we’re 100 per cent sure on any of those situations medically. The term concussion, in today’s sporting world, you want to make sure you’re 100 per cent sure before you start using that one.”

Asked why that was, Carlyle pointed a finger squarely at how head injuries are covered by the media.

“Because you guys report that it’s this and it’s that and we don’t know what it is,” Carlyle said. “Until you know exactly what it is, I don’t think you should make any statements. Everybody saw the hit. He got squeezed out and he got dazed and didn’t feel very good.

“So we just said we’re going to send him for examination this morning. He got an evaluation done last night. They’ve just said he’s day to day. That’s what they’ve told me.”

Carlyle also denied the injury was any more difficult to deal with than any other.

“You’re using the word concussion and I’m not,” he said. “It doesn’t make any difference to me. It’s a player that’s not available to us. If he feels good the next day then there’s always a chance he can play.

“It is what it is. Injuries are a hard thing to control. It’s a physical game and there’s lots of games being played and the games are going to be more physical as we go into the stretch here.”

Lupul didn’t travel with the team to New Jersey after practice and won’t play in Saturday’s game against the Devils.

Clarke MacArthur, who has missed four games with his own upper-body injury, will return to the lineup in Lupul’s spot on a line with Nazem Kadri and Nikolai Kulemin.

Thursday’s loss was only Lupul’s 10th game of the season as a broken forearm (25 games) and suspension (two games) have limited his impact in the lineup. When he has been healthy, though, he has been a force, putting up 14 points in the seven games since returning from his last injury and helping propel Toronto to a stretch of eight games without losing in regulation (5-0-3) leading into the game against the Flyers.

While several teammates lamented his latest absence, no one was calling for a suspension on the hit, which involved Adam Hall and former Leaf Jay Rosehill in a unique bang-bang type of sandwich collision.

Carlyle said he saw Lupul in the morning after he had undergone some concussion testing and that “he didn’t look very good.”

“They always do the eye drops and the dilation of the pupils and all that,” Carlyle said. “So it wasn’t real pretty. And I don’t really look at any of them as being pretty anyways.”

Projected Leafs lineup for Saturday:

JVR – Bozak – Kessel

MacArthur – Kadri – Kulemin

McClement – Grabovski – Komarov

Hamilton – Colborne - Orr

Gunnarsson – Phaneuf

Fraser – Franson

Gardiner/Liles – O’Byrne

Reimer

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