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Is the Maple Leafs’ Jani Hakanpaa Gamble Klingberg 2.0?

The Maple Leafs have a history of signing injury-prone players. Did they do so again with the Jani Hakanppa addition? Is he Klingberg 2.0?

The Toronto Maple Leafs were busy reshaping their blue line during NHL free agency and made headlines with some of their signings. As the dust has settled, the narrative surrounding one of the players signed has shifted. The signing of veteran defenseman Jani Hakanpaa is being questioned, with some wondering if the Maple Leafs just repeated the same mistake they made with John Klingberg last season.

Fans were initially excited about adding a towering presence of Hakanpaa to their blue line. However, recent developments have cast a shadow over this acquisition, raising concerns about Hakanpaa’s ability to contribute this season.

How Injury-Prone is Hakanpaa?

Toronto columnist Steve Simmons recently revealed that sources indicated significant red flags regarding Hakanpaa’s health. Simmons suggested that talk was Hakanpaa might never play in the NHL again due to a severe knee condition.

He wrote:

“What I was told about Hakanpaa was the belief that he would never play again in the NHL. I was told that his bone-on-bone knee was apparently shot. I was told — from two sources — that they didn’t think that any team would sign him.”

Simmons later added that the Leafs medical team took a look at Hakanpaa’s injury situation and cleared him. That’s why Toronto signed him, even if there’s still a higher probability of knee issues. Simmons noted, “I asked the Leafs about this. They said their doctors cleared him to be signed. We’ll find out in the fall – or later – whether he can play again.”

Why Would the Maple Leafs Take This Chance? It Didn’t Work With Klingberg

This situation raises serious questions about the Maple Leafs’ medical staff, especially considering the team’s recent history. Last season, the Maple Leafs signed John Klingberg to a one-year deal at a $4.15 million cap hit, only to see him effectively retire after just 14 games due to injury. Now, it appears the Leafs may be facing a similar scenario with Hakanpaa.

John Klingberg Jani Hakanpaa Maple Leafs

This brings into question the effectiveness and thoroughness of the Maple Leafs’ medical evaluations. Are the team’s doctors missing critical issues that seem to be common knowledge among other NHL teams?

The Leafs’ history of signing injury-prone players doesn’t inspire confidence. Beyond Klingberg, the team also brought in Matt Murray, another player with a checkered injury past. While fans might hope for a turnaround, these recurring issues suggest a pattern of oversight in the Leafs’ medical assessments.

With Hakanpaa’s future in the NHL and his potential impact on the Maple Leafs’ season a question mark, the team urgently needs to reassess their medical evaluation processes. The hope is that the Hakanpaa signing provides a level of vindication for past mistakes. If not, this is the kind of thing that will stick with this organization.

Next: What’s Really Going On with the Oilers and Evander Kane?



  1. Stan Smith

    July 7, 2024 at 11:06 am

    I find it interesting that the Dallas press had reported that Hakanpaa had arthroscopic surgery on the knee which is usually considered to be minor day surgery and that he was listed as day-to-day when the Stars were eliminated from the Stanley Cup playoffs. All of that does not sound anything close to “career ending”.

  2. Lar Gand

    July 7, 2024 at 10:14 pm

    I’ve checked everywhere for verification, but all I can find is Steve Simmons and his ‘sources’.

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