TORONTO — There is no good time for a player to get injured.
But the broken left wrist that will keep Wayne Simmonds out of the Toronto Maple Leafs lineup for the next six weeks seems particularly cruel given that the 32-year-old winger had just started finding his footing with a new team.
Not only had Simmonds recently been bumped up alongside John Tavares and William Nylander on the Leafs second line, but he was mere minutes removed from scoring his fifth goal in 12 games when an Alex Edler clearing attempt struck him above his glove during Saturday’s 5-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks.
Wrong place, wrong time — and a freak injury for a guy who has battled more than his fair share of them in recent years.
“Simmer’s a big loss for us,” coach Sheldon Keefe said Monday. “He’s been playing well, [but he’s missed] not just with his play. He brings a lot to our room in a lot of other areas. That certainly will be missed.”
In the short term, they’ll replace him by committee with only 11 forwards dressing for the finale vs. Vancouver. That allows Rasmus Sandin to get his first game action in 335 days as the seventh defenceman, but also opens the door to cycle Jimmy Vesey, Ilya Mikheyev and others through the open spot on the Tavares/Nylander pairing.
Big picture, the Wayne Train can’t be replaced by one teammate.