WASHINGTON -- The Maple Leafs have lost their No.1 centre Matt Stajan for a week or two.
President and GM Brian Burke said last night that Stajan has a condition known as hyphema in his right eye.
"There's trauma to the eye and he's got bleeding in the interior chamber," said Burke, while adding that it's not too serious and that Stajan will be under restricted activity for one to two weeks.
The Leafs faced the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center last night with fourth-line centre John Mitchell filling in Stajan's spot between Nik Antropov and Alexei Ponikarovsky. Mitchell said the pre-practice soccer warmup session -- which is quite routine -- got a little out of hand.
"A lot of guys were playing and I think it just kind of got a little out of control," Mitchell said of Stajan's injury. "We were kind of in a small room and so maybe guys thought (there) could be a little pinball effect if we kicked it off a bench or something like that. It might kind of stay in the air a little bit longer. It got a little bit out of hand. It's unfortunate."
Burke brushed aside suggestions last night that he is going to cease the practice of his team warming up with a soccer ball, adding that most teams do it and Stajan's injury was just a fluke.
Burke said the players do have to be careful, relaying a story about how, when he was with the Vancouver Canucks, he saw his star defenceman Ed Jovanovski hanging off a cable, 11-feet high, trying to retrieve the soccer ball.
"I said Eddie, 'if you get hurt when you let go of that rack, I'm going to trade you tomorrow,'" Burke said.
Stajan's roster spot was filled by winger Jamal Mayers, who has been out for almost a month with a broken hand. He was medically cleared to return.
"It's unfortunate we've lost him for a couple of games but hopefully it's nothing serious and he's going to be back soon," said Ponikarovsky. "We'll try to get chemistry with whoever we play with but it doesn't change our work ethic and preparation for the game."