This is definitely not the kind of news you want to start your season with but unfortunately for the Toronto Maple Leafs it is the hand that they have been dealt.
On Saturday Maple Leafs forward Ilya Mikheyev was injured when he fell awkwardly to the ice and appeared to injure either his hand or his arm, or possibly even both. The fall came as the direct result of a shove from behind courtesy of Ottawa Senators defenseman Dillon Heatherington, and it will no doubt be incredibly frustrating for the Maple Leafs that this occurred during a preseason exhibition contest that doesn't count in the standings.
Here's a short clip that gives you a closer look at the push from Heatherington and the subsequent fall that led to the injury:
Following the game Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe informed reporters that the 27 year old forward was likely to be out for the long term as a result of this incident, something that will only add to the organization's frustrations. Keefe also indicated that the team will have more to share on Monday, presumably after additional tests have shown the full extent of the injury to the Russian forward.
The situation is far from ideal for either Mikheyev or the Maple Leafs but it's actually not all bad. National Hockey League insider Elliotte Friedman recently expressed his belief that the Leafs were likely to lose forward Adam Brooks to waivers in the coming days, a move Friedman believed the Leafs would make after Pierre Engvall secured the final spot on the Leafs roster. If Mikheyev is indeed out for the long term that would immediately free up a roster spot for Brooks, avoiding the aforementioned situation altogether.
In a perfect world Mikheyev wouldn't be injured at all and it is rather obvious that the Leafs would prefer to have him in their lineup to start the regular season, but that may help soften the blow a little.
Hopefully the update on Monday will come with some good news for Mikheyev and regardless of the severity of his injury, as with every injured player, we hope he makes a full and speedy recovery from this one.