Social media is an interesting animal. It can serve as the conduit for all manner of cat-related revelations and it can provide special insight to a world of nit-pickers and whiners. It can also apparently be used by hockey players to launch allegations at their hockey clubs.
That’s been the case with Joffrey Lupul, who used Instagram to accuse his Toronto Maple Leafs of cheating.
The 33-year-old winger has been put on the long-term injured reserve list by the Maple Leafs and hasn’t played a game for the team since February of 2016. The club claimed he failed a training camp physical for the second year in a row.
But Lupul fired back via the social media site, answering a commenter who brought up the failed physical by stating “Haha [sic] failed physical? They cheat, everyone lets them.”
The comment has since been deleted, but its impact has been felt far and wide and there’s a lot to unpack here.
For his part, Lupul hasn’t responded to follow-up questions and the Maple Leafs stated that the team will not be commenting on what their player said.
“We aren’t in a position to comment right now,” NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said. “That may or may not change when we know more.”
It’s possible to dismiss this case as Lupul just being bitter over how Toronto has treated him, but Jared Cowen levelled similar allegations against the team in the past week.
Cowen went through a contested buyout with the Maple Leafs in December, with an apparent hip injury the turning point for the club. The player felt he was healthy enough to go, but the club disagreed. Cowen subsequently filed a grievance and the buyout was permitted by an arbitrator.
The defenceman landed in Colorado. “Basically, they got me, figured out that I was hurt, they didn’t want to deal with it, and they got rid of me,” he told BSNDenver.com. “It was a joke of a process.”
The basic thrust of the allegation is that the Maple Leafs get, shall we say, creative with injuries in order to produce cap space or otherwise contend with problems.
The biggest piece of evidence is probably Stephane Robidas, the defenceman who Toronto signed to a three-year deal in 2014. He played a year before the Maple Leafs plunked him on the long-term injured reserve list and he never played another game. He landed a front office gig shortly thereafter and the club avoided having to pay out his healthy contract.
Is this a case of a team simply using a well-oiled loophole to get out of tricky contracts or is Lupul correct in calling the Toronto Maple Leafs cheaters? That could be just a matter of opinion, at least for now.