Just one week ago, John Tavares was stretchered off the ice after a terrifying head injury. At the time, most were worried more about his day-to-day health than whether he would be back for the Toronto Maple Leafs this postseason. The team announced that Tavares had suffered a concussion and a sprained MCL on the play, which would keep him out for at least two weeks. Today, he was back on the ice skating before the Maple Leafs practice. Kristen Shilton of TSN reports that he stayed on the ice for about 20 minutes, sharing the pad with Nick Foligno who is dealing with his own injury.
It is an incredible sight to see after Tavares was knocked unconscious partway through the first period in game one of the Toronto-Montreal series, and could suggest that a return to the lineup can come a lot quicker than many expected. The Maple Leafs have a commanding lead in the series after winning the last three and could eliminate the Canadiens later tonight.
In his absence, Alexander Kerfoot has moved into the second-line center position between Alex Galchenyuk and William Nylander, but getting Tavares back would be a huge boost to the Maple Leafs if they do make it to the second round. The team’s entire identity is structured around having two elite centers driving separate lines, though they are currently getting big contributions from players lower in the lineup.
Not only would the added offense be welcome, but obviously getting their captain back would be big for the Maple Leafs as well. Morgan Rielly told Shilton that “it’s huge, just having him here and being able to talk to him.”