Leafs lose Bolland, game vs. Canucks

Toronto Maple Leafs Dave Bolland is helped off the ice by teammates Mason Raymond and David...

Toronto Maple Leafs Dave Bolland is helped off the ice by teammates Mason Raymond and David Clarkson after being injured while playing the Vancouver Canucks November 2, 2013. (REUTERS/Ben Nelms)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:05 AM ET

VANCOUVER - Even after watching heart-and-soul centre David Bolland wheeled out of Rogers Arena on a stretcher en route to a local hospital, Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis refused to play the blame game.

Asked about a second-period incident that likely will leave Bolland sidelined for at least three months, Nonis described it as "accidental."

That certainly doesn't take away the pain, though.

Not for Nonis. Not for coach Randy Carlyle. And certainly not for Bolland, who was scheduled to undergo surgery for a sliced tendon in the left ankle area on Saturday night.

Carlyle said it was an injury similar to that suffered by the Senators' Erik Karlsson last season, one that left the star defenceman out of the Ottawa lineup for about 10 weeks.

On a night in which the chippiness on the ice was as nasty as the soggy weather outside, the loss of the gritty centre has left the Leafs with a gaping hole both at centre and in the dressing room.

It was a devastating blow for a guy who had played so well since coming over in a draft-day trade with the Chicago Blackhawks

By the time the final horn had sounded at the Rogers Arena on Saturday, the Leafs had dropped a humiliating 4-0 decision to the feisty Canucks, a Vancouver victory that was the icing on the cake on the day that the great Pavel Bure's No. 10 was retired by this proud franchise.

As for the Leafs and Bolland, nothing "great" came out of this game. Far from it.

Already having left Tyler Bozak behind in Toronto from this three-game trip through western Canada with a lower body injury, the Leafs suffered another blow to a centreman when the skate of Vancouver's Zack Kassian lacerated Bolland's left leg in the ankle area early in the second period.

Carlyle revealed that Bozak is on long-term injury reserve, which means he must miss 10 games from the date he was first put on it.

"We're about halfway through that," Carlyle said.

Now they have lost another key cog up the middle in Bolland, who has scored six goals and adding four assists through the team's first 14 games.

Question is: What do the Leafs do now regarding the centre position? With Bozak and Bolland sidelined, the three healthy centres on the roster are Nazem Kadri, Jay McClement and Trevor Smith, who has 32 career NHL games to his credit.

"Maybe I'll have to start stretching," Nonis joked.

In reality, there are some options. James van Riemsdyk shifted over to centre after the Bolland injury. They also could call up journeyman Jerred Smithson from the Marlies.

"We are going to all have to pick up the slack," said Kadri. "That's what the good teams do."

The Leafs do not play again until they host the New Jersey Devils on Friday, which gives them time to heal, not to mention tighten up defensively.

In an ironic twist, Bolland is one of the most despised opponents in the eyes of Canucks fans dating back to his days with the rival Blackhawks when, during an interview on a Chicago radio station, he called the Sedins "sisters" and suggested they sleep in bunk beds.

Give the Vancouver supporters credit though. They exhibited class as Bolland was helped off the ice. In some rinks, there would have been boors cheering his injury. Not at Rogers Arena, however.

The ill will between the teams started in the first period when Canucks superpest Alex Burrows made a hacking gesture at Phil Kessel, clearly mocking the Leafs sniper for his slashing of Buffalo's John Scott during the pre-season. A frustrated Phil the Thrill responded by dropping his gloves.

The Leafs then started going after some of the Canucks. Of note: both Frazer McLaren and Joffrey Lupul took boarding penalties for hits from behind, incidents which might catch the eye of NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.

The Leafs do come home having won two of three out west after victories in Edmonton and Calgary. But those results can not mask the fact that Toronto allowed more than 40 shots in all three outings.

Daniel Sedin, Chris Higgins, Kassian and Dan Hamhuis scored for the Canucks while Roberto Luongo recorded the shutout. In the process, it was the 11th consecutive victory by the Canucks over the Leafs, who have not defeated Vancouver since Nov. 24, 2003.

Right now, the Leafs don't care about that.

Of more concern are the issues up the middle.

And Bolland's health.


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