TORONTO (July 27) — So, we wonder: How did it happen? How did goaltender Matt Murray, cleared by the medical staff of the Toronto Maple Leafs prior to the Stanley Cup playoff series against Florida, wind up on Long Term Injured Reserve (LTIR)? It’s been two months and two weeks since the Leafs were rudely bounced by the Panthers (on May 12). Murray did not dress for any portion of the five–game set. Now, out of nowhere, he is irreparably damaged. The Leafs claim Murray will be unavailable to start the 2023–24 schedule in mid–October.
So, again, what happened?
Did the veteran goalie slip on a bar of soap while showering, thereby aggravating his chronic back condition? Did a family member sneak into his bedroom in the middle of the night and whack him over the skull with a mallet, ensuring yet another concussion? Did he yank the adductor of his inner thigh while playing road hockey with the neighborhood kids? Did Brendan Shanahan invite Murray for dinner and drop rat poison in his cocktail? All of these must be considered possibilities given that Murray became incapacitated, quite conveniently, as the 48–hour window for buying out his contract began to expire. The Leafs probably figured Murray could fake whooping cough if confronted by the National Hockey League’s salary cap police. Or, pink eye. Both are quite contagious. Nobody from the NHL office would dare venture too close to the Thunder Bay native for fear of contracting illness. Chances are, good ol’ Matt is in the clear — so dreadfully broken down that the Leafs will continue to pay him $4,687,500 next season, not a penny of which will count against the cap. I mean, it would be awfully unfair for Murray’s salary to burden the Leafs when he’s recovering from back, thigh, head and deliberate poisoning issues.
A day later, I have received a clandestine report on how the LTIR thing actually went down.
Here’s the full story:
So debilitated was Murray on Wednesday morning that a family member rushed him to Emergency under the watchful eye of veteran Leafs’ doctor Noah Forman. Hospital staff hurried him to a stall; examined the goalie from head to toe, but could find only a minor scrape on one of his knuckles. “That could be career threatening,” Forman interceded. “Especially if it spreads to his other knuckles.” The staff member looked at Noah as if he were bonkers and the Leaf physician began to repeatedly slam the goalie’s head against the metal gurney frame. Once Murray lost consciousness, Forman coolly turned to the hospital workers and said “my guy also has concussion issues.”
Strong doses of Ammonia were placed under Murray’s nose until he came to.
“Geez, I’ve got a sudden headache, Doc,” he said to Forman. “What the hell happened?”
“Oh, nothing, Matt. Just trying to get your salary off the books.”
“He seems perfectly fine, now, Dr. Forman. Anything else we should look for?” asked the Emergency worker. At which point Forman grabbed Murray’s right leg, violently twisting it clockwise and counterclockwise. The confused goalie looked on incredulously. “There have also been groin and adductor issues,” Forman said. “Yes, he’s well enough to sprint up the side of hills and small mountains, but that was yesterday. He’ll be doing it no more.”
The hospital worker glared at Forman and encouraged Murray to “walk off” the leg twisting episode. After a few limps, all was well. In fact, Murray performed several deep–knee bends for the medical onlookers.
“I dunno, Doc, he seems quite resilient.”
“Yeah, but there’s nothing you’ll be able to do about this,” countered Forman.
The Maple Leafs physician asked Murray to lie face down on the floor. He then fetched a portly female nurse and requested her to leap off the gurney onto the prone athlete. The hospital staff watching in amazement, Murray let out a slight wail as the 240–pound heifer landed upon him with her ample caboose.
“Now, we’ve got to put him on LTIR,” insisted Forman. “There’s no way his chronic back ailment will ever resolve.”
Murray, however, shook off the well–fed employee.
“Thanks for your help,” he said with a grimace. “Here’s ten dollars. Treat yourself to a McDonald’s Happy Meal.”
BEEFY HOSPITAL NURSE STRIKES A POSE AFTER HER BULLS–EYE LANDING ON MATT MURRAY.
Frustrated, Forman grabbed Murray and stormed out of the hospital.
“Couldn’t you have cooperated a bit?” he asked the goalie. “We’re 12 freaking million over the salary cap.”
At which point the two men walked into a nearby travel agency. Among the employees, incredibly, was Stephane Robidas, a Maple Leafs defenseman for 52 games of the 2014–15 season. Robidas showed Murray and Forman pamphlets about an island he annexed shortly after then–GM Lou Lamoriello told him to “get lost”. There was a stunning photo of Robidas and ex–teammate Joffrey Lupul, shirt–less, cavorting about the tropical paradise, waving gobs of one–hundred–dollar bills (U.S. currency) they earned after promising to never again visit Toronto.
“I’m in!” exclaimed Murray.
“You’re on LTIR,” replied Forman, a devilish grin spreading across his face.
And, so, the NHL had little choice but to sanction the loophole in its Collective Bargaining Agreement.
“No one comes back from Robidas Island,” said its namesake while listening to an old Eagles album.
“You can check out… but you can never leave.”