Toronto Maple Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul has failed an independent medical evaluation and has been ruled unfit to play, which allows the team to play him on the long-term injured reserve list.
The 34-year-old went through a second medical evaluation after he failed a team physical prior to training camp, a situation that was not without controversy.
Lupul, who hasn’t played since February of 2016, challenged the initial diagnosis on Instagram and seemed to accuse the Maple Leafs of cheating. He deleted the post shortly thereafter and issued an apology.
Despite holding a right to it under the collective bargaining agreement, Lupul elected not to seek a second opinion on his own. The NHL, responding to the controversy, did elect to seek a second opinion from an independent evaluator to determine his status once and for all. And that decision subsequently vindicates Toronto.
The Maple Leafs can put Lupul on the shelf long-term and can free up the $5.25 million cap hit he carried. They also have deferred Nathan Horton’s $5.3 million cap hit, with him on the long-term injured reserve list as well.
Lupul has gone through a significant run of injuries in his NHL career, including back surgery when he was a member of the Anaheim Ducks. He failed his training camp physical with Toronto last September and missed the whole season before failing his most recent physical.
Lupul is in the final year of a five-year contract with the Maple Leafs and he’ll be an unrestricted free agent come this summer. He’s stated his intentions to play in the NHL again and will likely test the open market, especially given how things have gone with Toronto as of late. It’s hard to imagine him suiting up in the white and blue again.
Players are eligible for the NHL’s long-term injured reserve list if they are expected to miss a minimum of 10 games and 24 days in the season. Clubs can use the list to exceed the salary cap, although there are complications. The cap hit remains on the team’s payroll and does not allow for cap savings, but it allows teams to spend above and beyond the cap.
When and/or if a player is deemed ready to return to the ice, the team is required to activate the player.
The Chicago Blackhawks recently placed Marian Hossa on the long-term injured reserve list as the result of a skin condition. He’s expected to sit for the entire season.