The Toronto Maple Leafs have announced that defenceman Jake Muzzin will not return to the ice for the remainder of the play-in round.
During the dying minutes of the Leafs’ 3-0 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets, Muzzin was cross-checked by Pierre-Luc Dubois behind the goal, falling awkwardly into the knee of another Blue Jackets player – hitting his head in the process.
After remaining down on the ice for a while, the 30-year-old blueliner was stretchered off the ice and taken to hospital to be checked.
Per the team’s official Public Relations account on Twitter, Muzzin has returned to the team’s hotel and will quarantine there until he has recovered from his injury – a positive sign that he could be back for the team should they progress into the playoffs.
The injury is an unfortunate one for the Leafs, who lose arguably their best defensive defenceman as a result of something that is often overlooked in the NHL – cross-checks going uncalled as penalties, particularly in the playoffs.
If the officiating in the NHL was more consistent and called according to the rules, then these situations may not occur and players across the league would think twice about their conduct on the ice.
Some fans on social media have called for Dubois to be suspended, but this is not a suspendable offence in reality. It is something that 100% should’ve been called a penalty in the game, but the fall was unfortunate and there was no malicious intent from Dubois.
The fact that Muzzin hasn’t been ruled out indefinitely is something for Toronto Maple Leafs fans to hold on to, as it does mean the injury isn’t too serious and he should be ready and raring to go once the team’s medical staff give him the all-clear.
For the Leafs, they will now have the task of deciding who draws in to replace Muzzin and who they will partner with – as it won’t be as simple as slotting someone in his place.
Rasmus Sandin and Martin Marincin are the two defencemen the team will have to choose between, with many hoping to see the young Sandin partnered with Barrie while seeing Travis Dermott move up to partner Justin Holl.
Marincin, however, may have the edge as the veteran and it will be a decision that head coach Sheldon Keefe mulls over for some time before it becomes public knowledge.