Joffrey Lupul has not played a game for the Toronto Maple Leafs since February of 2016, and has been on the Leafs long-term injured reserve list. Rumors spread that Lupul wouldn’t play another NHL game again, and the Leafs would simply continue to bury his contract until it expired at the end of this coming season. However, Lupul has recently taken to social media to disprove these rumors in a unique way.
— Jeff Veillette (@JeffVeillette) September 18, 2017
Lupul made the comment (which has been removed) on this Instagram post of him looking as healthy as ever, skiing somewhere during the time he was presumably hurt.
Lupul also said “I’m ready, just awaiting the call” in the comments of the post before this exchange.
The Leafs, and their GM Lou Lamoriello, have notably been able to make bad contracts “go away” thanks to the nearly infinite wealth of MLSE, their parent company. Such examples have included “Robidas Island” when the Leafs essentially buried the bad contract of defenseman Stephane Robidas after he suffered two leg fractures during the only season he skated in Toronto, without costing them his enormous cap hit. They also traded for the long-term contract of Nathan Horton, whose deal still has $5.3 million of AAV until after the 2019-2020 season, which has also been buried on LTIR since it was acquired. They also pulled similar tricks with players they acquired such as Brooks Laich and Jared Cowan, who both are on PTO contracts. Cowen called the process of his Leafs contract buyout “a joke” just days ago.
Lupul was also notably left unprotected during the recent expansion draft, which should not have been the case if he was too injured to play again, which was the case with Horton.
Robidas is now a consultant for the Leafs, which based on Lupul’s comments, is not a job he’s likely to take up if offered. He seems fully willing and ready to play whenever a call comes, but he may have to wait like Laich and Cowan to get a chance until his contract expires. And as for the Leafs “cheating”, Loophole Lou plus the money and power of MLSE creates quite a bit of legal, yet perhaps unethical cap circumvention, and Lupul has felt the effects of that firsthand.