Aug 7, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT
The 2011-12 campaign was bittersweet for Joffrey Lupul. He posted a career-high 67 points and made his first All-Star Game, but only played 66 games after a season-ending shoulder separation in March.
The injury was severe enough to keep Lupul off skates for five months. He returned to the ice on Tuesday, a 30-minute twirl at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke while strength and conditioning coach Anthony Belza looked on.
“It’s been too long of a summer,” Lupul told the Toronto Star. “Obviously, the way things ended for our team, struggling down the stretch last year, and myself getting injured and missing the last 16 games.
“It’s been a long break, and I can’t wait to get back and play. It should be an exciting year.”
Lupul says he’s at 100 percent and will definitely be ready to start the season. That’s key for the Leafs, as Lupul is expected to contribute on a top-heavy first line that includes Phil Kessel and (possibly) James van Riemsdyk, who sounds as though he’ll get an extended look as the No. 1 center.
Lupul is excited about the possibilities.
“This will be great for him. I think he’s had some injuries and got bumped down the depth chart in Philadelphia a little bit,” Lupul said. “Fresh start, new city, and it appears he’ll be getting a pretty good opportunity at camp. We need him to be a good player for us.”
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