Leafs defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin
Photo credit: MSN

Ilya Lyubushkin has fully embraced his return to Toronto, despite unfortunate injury

Published March 3, 2024 at 12:55
BY MIKE ARMENTI

When the Toronto Maple Leafs re-acquired right-shot defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin on Thursday evening, Leafs Nation felt some relief in knowing that there was help on the way on the right side of the blueline. Unfortunately, celebrations were short-lived, as Lyubushkin was injured in his Leafs re-debut last night after this hit from Matt Rempe.


Lyubushkin was forced out of the game in the second period and did not return for the third period, with Sheldon Keefe confirming after the game that Lyubushkin had suffered a head injury on the play. It's not surprise, given the velocity in which Rempe came in, lept, and targeted his head. Shameful behaviour by the Rangers rookie and one that should earn him a suspension.

At any rate, Lyubushkin did not let the hit from Rempe steal his joy, as he was spotted in the Leafs' locker room after the game, celebrating with his teammates, even with a likely concussion. That's not all, as Lyubushkin also updated his profile photo on Instagram, depicting a bear in a Leafs jersey in honour of his nickname, "The Russian Bear".



Granted, Lyubushkin was not the sexiest name out there when the Leafs acquired him, but both Brad Treliving and Sheldon Keefe liked the idea of bringing someone in who had some familiarity with the organization and with Morgan Rielly. Both Rielly and Lyubushkin seemed excited about the reunion. Keefe also talked about Lyubushkin excelling at holding the line and denying zone entries from the opposition, which is a need for the Leafs, as was another right-shot defenseman.

There's no timeline for Lyubushkin's return right now, but it's certainly nice to know that he's happy to be back in Toronto and that, when he does return, he can really help this team in an area of need.
POLL
March 3   |   607 answers
Ilya Lyubushkin has fully embraced his return to Toronto, despite unfortunate injury

Could you see the Leafs re-signing Lyubushkin, knowing that they have had consistent enough interest in him to bring him back this year?

Yes, I could see him sticking around48479.7 %
No, he's a replacement level D467.6 %
It's too soon to say for sure7712.7 %
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