Maple Leafs’ Nick Robertson will miss the season due shoulder surgery
As part of updates on a number of banged up Maple Leafs Monday afternoon, it was announced Nick Robertson has undergone season-ending shoulder surgery.
On top of a long-term fibula injury, a knee problem and a concussion, the hard-luck winger’s right shoulder was damaged in an early December game. It was hoped re-hab would eventually allow his return this season, but now he’s looking at a further six months recovery from the operation.
The same club release said defenceman Mac Hollowell, who was promoted to the Leafs for a few games last month, fractured a kneecap in an AHL game last week, required surgery and will be missing a minimum 12 weeks.
Already in recovery mode are defenceman TJ Brodie (ribs) who has just returned to skating after being put on injured reserve, and defenceman Victor Mete (lower body).
The flu, meanwhile, is causing the Leafs as much concern as firing up for the Florida Panthers on Tuesday.
Forward Pontus Holmberg was still absent with the virus at Monday’s practice, joined by defenceman Rasmus Sandin.
“It’s that time of year,” coach Sheldon Keefe said when a bug goes right through a National Hockey League dressing room. Forwards Auston Matthew Bobby McMann also took ill on last week’s road trip.
“We try to be more conscious of course and we’ve got a lot better at (flu prevention) the past few years. That said, once it starts it’s hard to slow down. We’ll have to manage it as best we can.”
Those absentees had Keefe juggling lines and defensive pairings for the Panthers.
Defenceman Morgan Rielly and Conor Timmins, who had a rough night in Saturday’s 4-3 loss in Boston, were split up in part because of Sandin’s condition.
Rielly was with Timothy Liljegren Monday, Timmins alongside Jordie Benn, who would get Sandin’s spot if he can’t play.
Keefe acknowledged Rielly isn’t 100 per cent in mind and bod, “still trying to find his game” after coming back from a knee injury after Christmas. Riielly, who says he’s adjusted to the brace he’s now wearing, was on the ice before the main practice with others, partaking 1-on-1 with team skills’ coaches such as Denver Manderson, his summer trainer.
“You’re working hard, but want to get some extra touches, get some confidence, directly relating to your game,” Rielly said.
Keefe, his staff and the players had a rare lunchtime chance to watch the next day’s opponent, as Florida played a Martin Luther King matinee game in Buffalo.
It wasn’t likely to sap the Cats too much travelling such a short distance and they’ll certainly be in good spirits after beating the Sabres 4-1. Keefe prefers to think of Florida as a daunting divisional foe and defending Presidents’ Trophy winners, not a sub-.500 team that’s been in playoff danger.
“We have a very competitive division, it’s not just Boston and Tampa Bay. All the teams have either been really pushing or at times putting together good stretches. Not a lot of free nights there.
“Florida has a lot of the same ingredients as last year, they still look good on paper, look dangerous offensively.
“We have to try to build on some of the positives in Boston (a late 4-3 loss). We can still find another level to our game. Clearly that one was not quite good enough.”
Keefe wouldn’t confirm Ilya Samsonov as his starter on Tuesday, a tight-lipped approach he’s taken of late as both the Russian and Matt Murray have played so well. But it’s Samsonov’s turn and it seemed he’d done his homework for the Panthers. He respectfully referred to Matthew Tkachuk as “a (big) mosquito”, bound to harass him around the net … The Panthers come into Tuesday as the NHL’s only team without a win when trailing after one period (0-11). By comparison, the Leafs and Vancouver Canucks top that category at seven victories each … Special guests at practice Monday were the OHL Kitchener Rangers, coached by former Toronto assistant Chris Dennis. Also present, Chris’s father Paul, who was the junior Marlies coach and on Pat Quinn’s Leaf staff. The Rangers, who play at home Tuesday, held their practice on the Leafs’ pad after they exited.
This article was reported by Toronto Sun.