In what can only be referred to as “shocking” news, Toronto Maple Leafs off-season signing Tim Connolly announced today that he expects to be out of the lineup for an extended period of time, or what is officially being referred to as “day-to-day” status.
“I know it’s (the injury) been day to day for a while, but it’s a little more significant than originally expected,” Connolly said to reporters earlier today.
When Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke signed Connolly (30) to a two-year, $9.5 million (all currency U.S.) contract everyone involved knew there would be risks associated with the signing– especially when one considered Connolly’s injury-prone past.
Despite the warning signs, Burke signed Connolly for better or for worse, and we are currently seeing the “for worse” part.
Speculation has Connolly suffering from a neck injury or shoulder injury, but we are yet to get a really clear idea other than the perennial “upper body injury” line of answering when reporters take Connolly to task on his injury status.
Connolly originally injured himself during a practice drill when he tripped over the goaltender’s stick, and crashed headfirst into the boards.
As fluky as the injury was, its still another of a long line of trips to the Injury List– a list many Leaf fans were hoping Connolly could somehow avoid.
Given the fact that the Maple Leafs have started the season off with a 2-0 record and the fact that all four lines seem to be gelling fairly well it appears as if Connolly will not be missed by the Maple Leafs– at least not in the short term.
Where Connolly’s absence will hurt the Buds is in the long term as it will be difficult for Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel (Connolly’s expected line mates) to develop much chemistry in the early going and beyond. The longer the season goes, the longer Connolly is out, it will put both Connolly and his mates behind the eight ball as far as developing chemistry goes, which will be costly.
As the saying goes, “you don’t know what you’ve got until it’s gone”, in the case of Connolly, nobody really knows what the Maple Leafs have or don’t have, except that of an injury-prone player who looks to be on the downside of a disappointing career.
In the meantime, Tyler Bozak and perhaps even the suddenly healthy Matthew Lombardi (who had been suffering from concussion symptoms for months) or sophomore forward Nazem Kadri are expected to get the lion’s share of the first line duties alongside Lupul and Kessel, with the possibility of Mikhail Grabovski filling in at some point.
More likely, Bozak will continue to see the majority of the first line duties as he has developed a measure of chemistry with Lupul and Kessel in the first two games of the season.
Connolly’s injury riddled past includes missing the entire 2003-04 season due to a concussion, followed by another 80 games on the IR due to post-concussion symptoms. Connolly has also suffered a broken rib, leg injuries, a broken vertebra and some other cuts and bruises along the way.
Connolly played in a total of 68 games with the Buffalo Sabres last season, notching 13 goals and 29 assists, for a total of 42 points- his lowest point total since the 2007-08 season in which he netted 40 points in 48 games.
Connolly has not played a full 82-game season since 2001-02 when he notched 41 points in 82 games as a member of the New York Islanders.
Originally drafted in the first round (fifth overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft by the Islanders, Connolly’s career can only be termed a disappointment thus far and, if his injuries woes continue, it appears as if he will be a bust as a member of the Maple Leafs as well.
Of course, nobody saw this coming, right?
Until next time,