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Samsonov is very close with Lyubushkin, but won't sacrifice his sleep to welcome him to Toronto


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Dean Chaudhry
March 1, 2024  (3:38 PM)
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Ilya Lyubushkin is a Leaf once again
Photo credit: The Hockey News

It's always somewhat wholesome when an NHL club - or any sports team for that matter - acquires a former player or a player with ties to the team. Ilya Lyubushkin, who was just acquired last night from the Anaheim Ducks, not only played for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the past, but he is also very close friends with current Leafs netminder, Ilya Samsonov.

Back in January and amidst Samsonov's struggles that led him to being placed on waivers and then sent down to the minors, Lyubushkin texted the goaltender to see how he was doing:
"I've texted him," Lyubushkin said on Wednesday. "But I also don't want to put pressure on him."

Their friendship started when both players were forced into getting their American visas in Uzbekistan because of the sanctions the United States had placed on Russia for the annexation of Crimea in 2014. Ever since then, they've been rather close.
Now that Lyubushkin is returning to Toronto - this time with Samsonov on the club - the goaltender made a cheeky joke last night after hearing about the latest transaction:
"[Samsonov said he and Lyubushkin] texted last night, but when the new guy inquired about getting picked up at the airport at 10:30 tonight, Sammy said don't bother, he'd be asleep."

It remains to be seen what kind of role Lyubushkin will play in his second tenure with the Maple Leafs. However, if and when he does get some playing time, look for some jovial chemistry on and off the ice between the two Russians.
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MARCH 1   |   1090 ANSWERS
Samsonov is very close with Lyubushkin, but won't sacrifice his sleep to welcome him to Toronto

Do you think Lyubushkin can force his way into the lineup?

Yes, they need his snarl and grit97689.5 %
No, there's too many better options ahead of him474.3 %
Can only see it happen if someone is hurt676.1 %
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