If you are a Toronto Maple Leafs fan, you have to be relieved today for two reasons. First, your team played well and came after the Columbus Blue Jackets winning Game 2 and to tie the Qualifying Series at a game each. Second, after your stellar defenseman Jake Muzzin lay on the ice for what seemed like an eternity and was carried off the ice on a stretcher, you find out that his injury isn’t serious and that he was discharged from the hospital.
As a result of his injury, Muzzin won’t be able to play for the remainder of the Maple Leafs qualifying round series against the Blue Jackets. Muzzin was taken to the hospital after leaving Tuesday’s game against the Blue Jackets. His head struck the leg of Oliver Bjorkstrand when he was knocked off balance by Pierre-Luc Dubois’ crosscheck.
As noted, Muzzin was discharged later last night but will remain quarantined at the hotel until he recovers. Given that he remains in the bubble, that has to be good news for his team. He’s a leader both on and off the ice.
If Muzzin Is Healthy, Will He Be Able to Play?
As it stands right now, Muzzin is out for the series. His injury might be an issue for the Maple Leafs’ defense. Even if he’s given the clearance from doctors to return to on-ice action, so far the NHL’s Phase 4 protocol hasn’t been tested. He’s the first player of the Stanley Cup Qualifying Round to leave the bubble for emergency help.
Currently, the NHL’s protocol calls for any player who returns to the bubble from an excused exit to quarantine in his hotel room until four consecutive negative tests for COVID-19 have been completed over a four-day time frame. However, the NHL said on Tuesday night that Muzzin might not be subjected to that protocol. There’s no hard-and-fast rule that governs treatment for injuries outside the league’s triage center.
The decision will be in the hands of the NHL’s Hub Medical Director, who will consult with the Event Medical Director. In the end, that decision will be based on an assessment of the exposure Muzzin was subjected to in his time outside the bubble.
That might shorten the amount of time Muzzin could be sidelined. If he is physically “healed-enough” and was subject to the original protocol, Muzzin would have needed four straight days of negative tests. That meant that the best-case scenario was that he might have rejoined the Maple Leafs on Sunday if a Game 5 was needed.
Taking Muzzin’s Place on the Maple Leafs Defense
Martin Marincin will likely replace Muzzin in the lineup for Game 3 on Thursday. That rests on the likelihood that Muzzin can’t make a quick and complete recovery and wouldn’t be an option for Thursday’s game. Marincin is the team’s seventh defenseman on its depth charts. He also has experience on penalty kill.
But, we’ll see what happens and will try to keep Maple Leafs fans in the know about both Muzzin’s condition and the NHL’s protocol rulings.
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