The Toronto Maple Leafs are the latest team to feel the potential downsides of the National Hockey League's moratorium on reports regarding player health, injury, or illness.
Leafs forward Zach Hyman was notably absent from the team's practice on Saturday which has led to considerable speculation regarding his status, but due to the new rules in the NHL speculation is all that it has been thus far. When Hyman was against absent from practice on Sunday when his Maple Leafs engaged in an afternoon scrimmage designed to prepare them for some of the time slots they may be playing in as a result of what will be a condensed playoff schedule.
The concern surrounding Hyman has been very real especially given the fact that he is coming off major ACL surgery earlier in the season, but for fans who have been left in the dark wondering about the status of the gritty forward there may have been a glimmer of hope provided on Sunday courtesy of Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. Like all other coaches in the league Keefe has been bound by the NHL's new rules and is very limited in what he can say, but he was willing to provide a very short answer to one particularly notable question. Keefe was asked about his level of concern regarding the possibility of Hyman missing the opening Game of the Stanley Cup Qualifying round, with Keefe simply responding that he feels those odds are "low."
"I don't know what I'm supposed to say or can't say," added Keefe in regards to the new rules.
This would appear to indicate that the Leafs expect Hyman will be healthy and ready to go come August 1st when the Qualifying round begins, but it may also indicate that there is a possibility Hyman could be sidelined. A low probability of Hyman missing the game is not no probability of missing the game, although to be completely fair to Keefe here it may simply be that he was trying to skirt the line of what he can or cannot say.
The Leafs will face off against the Columbus Blue Jackets and head coach John Tortorella in the opening round of the qualifiers.