TORONTO – For Randy Carlyle, it was a potential injury that could have been avoided.
Joffrey Lupul was forced to depart Maple Leafs practice on Thursday afternoon after taking a shot in the foot. He was sent for x-rays and later diagnosed with a bruised foot. The 30-year-old joined teammates on the team's trip to Columbus.
Frustrating Carlyle was the simple fact that Lupul was not wearing the required protective shot-blockers.
"It's hard to defend the position of them not putting them on for practice," Carlyle said following practice. "So there is a little extra frustration to get possibly an injury through practice where the protective equipment that's made available to the player, they don't want to wear."
Nik Kulemin, who has missed the past eight games, also did not wear the protective equipment when he broke a small bone in his right ankle earlier in the month. Carlyle said the shot-blockers, plastic shields which cover the skate, are mandatory.
"We've addressed it once and everybody's been fitted for the molds, but there's a couple players that refuse to wear it," he said.
"I tried wearing them after I came back from a broken foot a couple years ago," said James van Riemsdyk. "I had to wear them to play in the playoffs that year and I could never get used to them so I scrapped them."
Lupul has been bitten with injuries throughout his career and more recently in the past two seasons. He missed the final 16 games of the 2011-12 season because of a separated shoulder, suiting up in only 16 games last season due to a broken right forearm and concussion.
The Leafs will have the previously suspended David Clarkson in their lineup for the first time on Friday, but have been dealing with injuries to Kulemin, Mark Fraser (knee), Frazer McLaren (finger), and James van Riemsdyk, who missed two games with back spasms but returned to the lineup on Tuesday.
McLaren, who has been out all season, has been cleared to return from a broken right pinky finger.
Assigned to the Marlies on Wednesday, Josh Leivo has been recalled by the club as a likely precaution for Lupul and will make the trip to Columbus.