Injuries the demise of gritty Armstrong
Lance Hornby, QMI Agency
|Colby Armstrong (left), whose contract is being bought out by the Maple Leafs, missed the equivalent of a full schedule due to injuries. (REUTERS/Fred Thornhill)
At one stage of Colby Armstrong’s two-year hitch with the Maple Leafs, the non-playoff club was 10 regulation games above .500 with him in the lineup.
But staying healthy enough to contribute was his problem. The popular right winger looked as though he had been through two world wars in his two Leafs seasons. Missing the equivalent of a full schedule far outweighed the cost of his $3-million contract in 2012-13, which will be bought out at two thirds on Sunday after he clears waivers.
The Leafs continue to look for upgrades on their bottom six forwards, with Armstrong gone and Jay Rosehill and Joey Crabb becoming unrestricted free agents on Sunday. Leo Komarov, Matt Frattin and possibly a UFA obtained in July will be moved in.
Armstrong, who signed two years ago Sunday, played an aggressive style, but one that led to a string of unfortunate, often freak injuries. He did serve as an alternate captain, a nod to his strong dressing room presence, and if he doesn’t catch on with another team, he likely has a future in the media.
The 29-year-old spent much of the second half of last season recovering from a concussion and broken toe, which followed a badly sprained ankle. Several shot-block injuries, an infected eye and a significant arm mishap lessened his impact in his first season.
“Thanks to the Leaf Nation for the support over the last couple seasons,” Armstrong tweeted on Saturday morning, announcing his own release. “Although I had tough luck, thanks for everything.”
Armstrong will only be on the books for $1 million this year and the same in 2013-14.
He ended his tweet with the hashtag #lotsleftinme, indicating the eight-year NHL veteran will try again with another club. The Leafs are almost at the end of a protracted payout for winger Darcy Tucker, who last played for them in 2007-08, but came back with Colorado.
“Colby certainly gave us all he had,” Dave Poulin, vice president of hockey operations for the Leafs, said in an e-mail. “He is a high quality person, but in the end, the injuries over the last two years were too much to overcome. We wish him only the best moving forward.”