Photo credit:John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports
Maple Leafs’ Kampf still recovering from ‘clean hit to the head he took’ Keefe says cheekily
By Alex Hobson3 months ago
The Leafs wrapped up a back-to-back over the weekend, walking away with a pair of wins after their first bout with Western Canada. Saturday’s 5-2 win against the Vancouver Canucks was one of their cleanest efforts of the entire season, a way to go into their Sweden trip that I’m sure the team is happy with for a multitude of reasons.
The Leafs practiced yesterday in preparation for their trip overseas, and in his post-practice media availability, Sheldon Keefe offered up a couple of updates on absent players, including John Klingberg and David Kampf. While Klingberg’s update was far less exciting, simply that he’s still working through his undisclosed injury, Keefe had a much better way of phrasing why Kampf wasn’t at practice.
For those who don’t remember, although I’m not sure how you could have missed it by this point, Keefe is referring to a play in Saturday’s game where former Leaf prospect Dakota Joshua caught Kampf with a hit up high. While the forward stayed in the game, his head did take some damage after the fact, enough that his 40-year-old teammate Mark Giordano stood up for him and dropped the gloves with Joshua after the fact.
The Giordano-Joshua fight was part of a game that was almost a coming-of-age moment for the Leafs. Less than two weeks after being shredded online for a lack of response to the can-opener play that knocked Timothy Liljegren out of the game against Boston on Nov 2, it seems as though the Leafs got the message. Not long after the Gio fight, Canucks veteran Ian Cole caught rookie Nick Robertson up high with a hit. Without hesitation, his new linemate Max Domi jumped Cole and dropped the gloves with him too.
You can say that it shouldn’t take an injured young player, intense media scrutiny, and a team meeting for the Leafs to stick up for their teammates, and while there’s certainly an argument to be made for that, it’s good to see it happen later rather than never. That being said, games like this only matter in hindsight if the mentality sticks through the rest of the season and into the playoffs, so we’ll see if the experience from that game is something that they take with them.
Whether you agree with Keefe’s assertion of the hit on Kampf or not, you can’t expect a head coach to do anything but take his side, and considering that he usually takes the safe route whenever something controversial happens, it was a funny change of pace to see him crack a joke to the media. Now, will he get fined for it? We’ll see. Worth it though, in my opinion.
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