Injured Leafs captain Tavares to miss start of regular season
Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares will be out for opening night.
“He has been dealing with something since the game the other night,” Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe said to reporters on Tuesday. “He thought it was pretty minor, but they had some further tests here later today after we started practice and it has come back with an oblique strain that is going to keep him out a minimum of three weeks.”
The Leafs kick off their regular season schedule on October 12, when they travel to the Bell Centre to take on their rival Montreal Canadiens.
Taking Keefe’s word at face value, the earliest Tavares would be available to return would be on October 18, after their first four regular season games. Based on the same timeframe, Tavares could make his regular-season debut on October 20, when the Leafs host the Dallas Stars at Scotiabank Arena.
“He’s a huge part of our team and it really does alter the plan for sure,” Keefe added. “But we’ve played without guys before so for the remainder of the camp it just is additional opportunities for guys to step up and fill in that space.”
Tavares had 27 goals, 49 assists, and a plus-minus of -8 in 79 games in 2021-22. Throughout his Leafs career, he’s had 119 goals, 155 assists, and a plus-minus of +16 in 280 games across the past four seasons.
Tavares is heading into year five of a seven-year, $77 million contract, which currently stands as the most expensive deal in team history as well as the fifth highest cap hit in the league, at $7 million per season.
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