The Toronto Maple Leafs top defenseman, Morgan Rielly, is officially back in the lineup and will play Thursday against the Tampa Bay Lightning, head coach Sheldon Keefe confirmed to reporters.
Rielly was placed on injured reserve Jan. 13, one day after blocking a shot with his foot in Toronto's 8-4 road loss to the Florida Panthers. The 25-year-old blueliner temporarily left that game but returned to put in more ice time than any other skater on his team.
What is Morgan Rielly's injury?
Rielly briefly exited a Jan. 12 loss to the Panthers after he blocked an Aleksander Barkov shot, but he returned to the ice shortly thereafter.
Rielly did return after blocking that shot
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) January 13, 2020
He played a team-high 21:03 in that contest, which made the team's announcement the next day that he had been playing injured a bit of a surprise. In fact, the team said Rielly had suffered a fractured foot against the Panthers.
(1/2) The @MapleLeafs announced today that defenceman Morgan Rielly underwent a CT scan this afternoon after sustaining an injury in last night’s game against Florida and will be out a minimum of eight weeks with a fractured foot.
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 13, 2020
Coincidentally, fellow defenseman Muzzin also suffered a foot fracture sustained by blocking a shot.
How long will Morgan Rielly be out?
The Leafs expected Rielly to be out a minimum of eight weeks — the team placed the Vancouver native on injured reserve Jan. 13.
(2/2) Rielly will be placed on injured reserve and will be reassessed after eight weeks by the Maple Leafs medical staff. #LeafsForever
— Leafs PR (@LeafsPR) January 13, 2020
Originally slated to be out of the lineup eight weeks, Rielly returns exactly on schedule for the team's March 10 game against the Lightning.
Head coach Sheldon Keefe confirms Morgan Rielly will return to the lineup tonight.#LeafsForever
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 10, 2020
Morgan Rielly injury timeline
After blocking an Aleksander Barkov shot from close range early in an 8-4 loss on Jan. 12 to the Panthers in Florida, Rielly left the ice to seek medical treatment. He returned and played the full game, going over 21 minutes in the loss.
The Leafs announced the following day that Rielly had sustained a fractured foot on the play and will require eight weeks of recovery time.
Morgan Rielly injury updates
Only four days prior to fracturing his foot, Rielly revealed that he had been playing through another undisclosed injury for most of the season.
“It was a pretty significant amount of pain,” Rielly told The Athletic. “But I did my MRIs and everything like that and there was no damage to the real important things. So it was just a matter of pain management.”
He didn't specify what the ailment was, but did tell The Athletic that it was a lower-body injury.
“We took some action over the Christmas holidays and I’m feeling much better after some minor stuff that we did,” he added. “And I think it’s just having confidence — and the pain is way lower than it was, and I’m able to just go out and play more.”
After seemingly overcoming the mystery injury, Rielly now embarks on a two-month recovery for the fractured foot.
Feb. 24 update: Rielly was seen skating on Monday for the first time in almost a month and a half.
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 24, 2020
He took to the rink along with teammates Ilya Mikheyev and Cody Ceci, both of whom have also been on the IR. The Maple Leafs haven't provided any update on his return time, with GM Kyle Dubas saying Rielly and Ceci were still "a ways away" from returning.
March 2 update: Maple Leafs' coach Sheldon Keefe told reporters on Monday that Rielly will return sometime next week.
Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci are on track to return at some point next week, according to Sheldon Keefe.
The #leafs also believe Ilya Mikheyev will play again this season, although his timeline is a little longer than Rielly and Ceci.
— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) March 2, 2020
It looks like his recovery is right on schedule, with next Monday, Mar. 9, marking exactly eight weeks since he was put on injured reserve.
March 9 update: That eight-week timeline looks to have been right on the money. According to Maple Leafs teammate Mitchell Marner, Rielly could be making his return on Tuesday night against the Lightning.
Mitch Marner believes Morgan Rielly will be playing on Tuesday vs #GoBolts:
"It’s nice seeing him back out there and fully moving. I think he’s playing tomorrow so it should be great to have him back out there."#LeafsForever #NHL
— Dave McCarthy (@DaveAMcCarthy) March 9, 2020
The team has still yet to comment, but Marner's comments should be exciting to Toronto fans as they await the return of one of their best blueliners.
March 10 update: Rielly will return to the Leafs' lineup Thursday night in a pivotal Atlantic Division matchup with the Lightning.