Leafs' Kapanen scratched for 'internal accountability'

Mike StephensNHL analyst
Yahoo Sports Canada

Fire up those trade engines, folks. We could have some juice here.

When news broke earlier this evening that Kasperi Kapanen would be surprisingly absent from the Maple Leafs’ matchup with the Ottawa Senators with Dmytro Timashov taking his place, the prevailing sentiment amongst the fanbase was that it was injury-related.

Kapanen had been forced to leave the Maple Leafs’ game versus the Nashville Predators this week with what was reported as a “forearm injury”, after all, and returned the following game. With the Leafs resting their starting goaltender against an inferior opponent tonight, it seemed as if they were merely just giving their 22-year-old winger a maintenance day.

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Guess what? We were wrong.

Of course, this could mean a multitude of things. Perhaps Kapanen missed a team meeting or was late to the rink this afternoon and is merely on the receiving end of some team-imposed discipline. Such an instance has happened before.

That being said, it would be pretty convenient if the Leafs’ most valuable trade chip sat out a game for non-injury reasons the same week that reports hinted that his general manager, who is notorious for seeking out deals well ahead of February’s deadline, was checking in on a number of opposing defencemen. Now that would be quite the coincidence.

Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen was scratched for non-injury reasons, fuelling speculation that he could be on the trade block. (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kasperi Kapanen was scratched for non-injury reasons, fuelling speculation that he could be on the trade block. (Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images)

While speaking with the media post-game, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe provided an update on Kasperi Kapanen’s unexpected scratch from tonight’s lineup. While declining to delve into specifics of the issue, Keefe attributed the decision to sit his talented winger to reasons relating to “internal accountability”.

According to Keefe, the absence will be a “one-time thing”.

Keefe did not provide a further update on the matter after that. However, he did indicate that Kapanen will address the absence himself on Monday following the Leafs’ scheduled practice. Perhaps then we will get a clearer idea of the entire situation.

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