Flashbacks to Nick Foligno might be the centrepiece of what’s causing the panic within Leafs Nation when it comes to the most recent injury news surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs. After all, Kyle Dubas traded a first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft for Ryan O’Reilly — and, of course, Noel Acciari — and news broke earlier in the week that O’Reilly wouldn’t be back until just before playoffs. That’s if everything goes according to plan.
But the news that he was being placed on long-term injury reserve sent a wave of panic through Leafs Nation. Many reverting to the idea that this team is cursed, while others just braced themselves for disappointment and readied their jerseys for another first-round burn.
That was exponentially heightened when it was also revealed that captain John Tavares wasn’t quite feeling himself after taking two big hits against the Vancouver Canucks on March 4 and as a precaution sat out against the New Jersey Devils this week — news that has since become a moot point with Tavares’ return to the lineup.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Acciari an Underrated Acquisition
While there is some concern around the O’Reilly injury and ultimately the Maple Leafs centre depth as a result, it’s time to let the initial panic pass and weather the storm for a fanbase that has suffered layers and layers of disappointment over the past two decades and beyond.
For Maple Leafs, Timing is Everything
Sure, there’s no ideal time to see a player on your roster injured, let alone a player that you traded for to fill a gap for a playoff run. But it might not be the worst time for O’Reilly to sit out. Don’t get me wrong, it’d be much nicer to have him playing and building chemistry with his new teammates, but considering the given timeline for his return he will still get some game time in before the team heads to the playoffs.
In a situation like this, it’s an earlier-the-better type of mentality. If O’Reilly got injured two weeks after the actual incident, we’d be talking about the real possibility that he misses some playoff time which isn’t what the Maple Leafs want to hear.
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“Obviously when we get him, you get excited and you know what he can bring, so to lose him certainly it’s tough and disappointing,” said Sheldon Keefe following the injury to O’Reilly. “But we acquired him to be healthy, ready to go for the…
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