Head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed Toronto Maple Leafs fans’ fears on Tuesday, announcing that backup goaltender Jack Campbell will be sidelined “weeks” with a leg injury.
The team has recalled third-stringer Michael Hutchinson to fill the No. 2 role behind Frederik Andersen for the “foreseeable future,” while netminder Joseph Woll has been recalled to Toronto’s taxi squad.
Jack Campbell is out for weeks with a leg injury, according to Sheldon Keefe. Michael Hutchinson is the #leafs No. 2 for the forseeable future.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) January 26, 2021
"We'll get [Campbell] back to health whenever we can, whenever he's feeling up to it," Keefe said, per NHL.com.
"But we still have lots of confidence in both Fred and Hutch. That's the game. That's what you go through. That's why you try to set yourself up with as much depth as possible to deal with whatever might come our way. I do think the way the schedule sets up here now, it's pretty favourable for us and for Fred Andersen's workload.”
It’s not clear exactly when or how Campbell sustained the injury during Toronto’s 3-2 win over Calgary on Sunday. He started showing visible signs of discomfort partway through the third period, and was especially slow to get up after Matthew Tkachuk — let’s say “suspiciously” — fell on top of the already ailing Campbell in the Leafs’ crease as the final minutes ticked down.
Plenty of heat was thrown Tkachuk’s way from Leafs fans and some media following the play, but Keefe called the play in questions a “non-issue,” while Flames coach Geoff Ward wasn’t having any of the notion that his player attempted to injure (or further injure) Campbell in the Leafs crease as Calgary pressed for the game-tying goal.
“Are we really talking about this? Seriously? If people are wondering did Matthew hurt the goaltender, he didn’t get hurt on that play. He got hurt earlier and he stood in there tough the rest of the game, which is a credit to him.
“You know what? To be honest with you, if that’s anybody else we’re not even talking about it. Because it’s Matthew Tkachuk, now it’s an issue. If that’s Johnny Gaudreau or somebody else falling on the goaltender we’re not even talking about it. There was not intent there to injure him, there was no nothing,” Ward said to reporters after the game.
Tkachuk, for what it’s worth, denied any wrongdoing, too.
“I was just digging for the puck, I was battling with (Brodie) there, guys sort of coming in. I just got knocked over, I obviously didn’t (have any) intention of falling into him or anything. It’s just a complete, a classic thing to try to accuse me of there, but just trying to battle for the puck, find the loose puck and try to pot home the game-tying (goal) and unfortunately that didn’t happen,” he said.
Campbell, who really did gut out a pretty heroic effort in that final minute to clinch Toronto’s win, has been admirable when called upon in 2021, going 2-0 with a .923 save percentage in relief of Andersen, who is a notorious early-season underperformer. He’ll certainly be missed in a season where a condensed schedule has already highlighted the importance of an above-replacement level backup.
Hutchinson is joining the Leafs for his second stint after being flipped to Colorado at the deadline last season. In 15 games with Toronto last season, the 30-year-old put up an underwhelming .886 SV% after posting a .914 in five games with Toronto in 2018-19. He also started three games for the Avalanche during the team’s second-round loss to the Stars last summer after Philipp Grubauer and Pavel Francouz were ruled unfit to play, posting a 2-1 record with a .910 save percentage.
Aaron Dell, the Leafs’ third-stringer to start the season and considered a fairly significant upgrade to Hutchinson, was recently claimed on waivers by New Jersey after he was exposed due to Toronto’s cap crunch and injury situation.
More from Yahoo Sports