Gustafsson happy to be back with Leafs after child's health scare
The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t seen a whole lot of Erik Gustafsson this season, but he offered some clarity on the personal issue that has kept him out of the team’s lineup since March 23.
Gustafsson’s absence was tied to a health concern around his 18-month-old daughter, Lusie, who was eventually diagnosed with celiac disease after spending eight days in a hospital.
“She’s doing well now and they’re all at home now,” Gustafsson told The Hockey News’ David Alter on Thursday. “Very happy that our daughter is healthy and is ok. Very happy to be back with the team, too.”
Celiac disease is a chronic digestive and immune disorder that damages the small intestine while triggered by foods that contain gluten, as per the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Gustafsson said his family’s doctors instructed them to continue with Lusie’s normal diet while trying to sort out what her health issue was, before eventually diagnosing her with celiac.
A 31-year-old left-handed defenceman from Sweden, Gustafsson has played just eight games for Toronto since being acquired in a trade on February 28, where he came from the Washington Capitals along with a first-round pick for fellow defender Rasmus Sandin.
He has one assist so far for Toronto, while putting up 15:16 of ice time, and is set for unrestricted free agency after this season, with his one-year contract currently set at a cap hit of $800k.
“It’s going to take a little bit here for him,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of Gustafsson’s return to the Leafs’ lineup. “Yesterday was his first real practice in a couple of weeks. We’ll continue to work with him but we’re certainly thrilled to have him back.”
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