The Maple Leafs took to the ice Wednesday morning minus defenceman Carl Gunnarsson. After being hit hard early in the first period during the 6-5 overtime loss to the Sabres on Tuesday, Gunnarsson will miss the final two games of the season with a separated shoulder.
“It is a four to six week rehabilitation time frame before he is back to 100 per cent,” head coach Randy Carlyle said.
While the Leafs will be without Gunnarsson, there is a good chance that David Steckel could make a return Thursday against Tampa Bay. The big centre practiced full out with Tim Connolly and Mike Brown Wednesday. The news was also encouraging for Mikhail Grabovski.
“Steckel could be an option if he gives us the green light and Grabovski will probably skate tomorrow morning,” Carlyle said.
What was Gunnarsson’s take on the hit?
“I thought I could just spin off it in a better way but he got me good and I just have myself to blame,” Gunnarsson said.
After the hit Gunnarsson played one more shift before having to leave the game. He tried to gut it out but the pain became too much.
“I wanted to keep playing but I couldn’t do it,” he said.
The hit by Marcus Foligno was a clean one and looked to be vicious but Gunnarsson said he has been hit harder. It was the way that he got hit that caused the injury.
“I’ve probably taken a couple of harder ones but this hit got me in a weird way,” he said.
While the Leafs’ season will end Saturday in Montreal, a few Leafs will be taking part in the World Hockey Championships next month in Finland & Sweden. Gunnarsson was hoping to play for Sweden but that is now up in the air.
“It’s not entirely up to me either, we will see what management says and if they are willing to take a chance depending on how long it takes for it to heal,” Gunnarsson said.
Check out video from Carlyle, Gunnarsson & Frattin: