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The Latest on The Leafs and Kasperi Kapanen

After being scratched from the Maple Leafs lineup on Saturday, what is the latest on where the Leafs stand with forward Kasperi Kapanen?

It’s likely the hockey world will be talking about the Toronto Maple Leafs and Kasperi Kapanen over the next couple of days. When he was scratched from the Maple Leafs lineup on Saturday, speculation ran rampant and theories were everywhere. The questions were, ‘Why didn’t the Leafs say anything about an injury?’ ‘Is there a trade coming?’ ‘Why is he in the building watching the game if he’s been traded?’…

As the game proceeded and the Maple Leafs confirmed his scratching had nothing to do with being hurt, new questions came up. ‘What did he do?’ ‘Why would the Maple Leafs scratch him when they too, are clawing for a playoff spot?’

Those questions will like continue until Kapanen is made available to the media on Monday, possibly afterwards if he doesn’t want to talk about it.

What We Know About Kapanen’s Situation

We now know, thanks the Maple Leafs Public Relations department and head coach Sheldon Keefe, Kapanen is not hurt, at least not physically. His pride might be a little dented after finding out Saturday morning he was being sat because of an “internal accountability” issue, but he’s not going to miss any other action unless he does whatever he did to earn this scratch again.

Keefe spoke with the media, including TSN’s Kristen Shilton, and called it a one-time thing. The decision was made in the morning but Keefe would not go into more detail. The immediate assumption is that he was late for a practice or some other team meeting. That’s a pretty big no-no in hockey circles. But, many are wondering if there’s more to it than that.

Related: Chris Kreider Injured: Does That Affect Trade Potential?

What We Don’t Know About Kapanen’s Situation

It’s hard to imagine any of Kapanen, Keefe or GM Kyle Dubas admitting the player is in the coach’s doghouse. But, that’s some of the speculation going around in Toronto right now.

Keefe said, “We had chatted about it [Kapanen being scratched] yesterday a little bit then made our decision (on Saturday). I wanted to sleep on it and we met with (Kapanen) this morning, made a decision and went from there.” It couldn’t have been an easy decision.

The Maple Leafs are barely hanging onto a playoff spot right now and every game counts. Kapenen clearly makes the Maple Leafs better when he’s playing versus when he’s sitting. Yet, there must have been an issue here that required over-riding the need to win versus the need to send a message. “It’s not easy for Kyle Dubas & Sheldon Keefe to make a decision like this…but if you don’t do it now, things start to run away a little bit…” said TSN’s Craig Button.

Button called Keefe a strong-willed and respected personality. Some are wondering now if that means there’s a bigger issue here between player and coach. With Kapanen’s name often in the rumor mill, Leafs Nation will be buzzing about what comes next.

Toronto’s needs haven’t changed. They’re still looking for an upgrade on defense and backup netminder. If Kapanen is on the outs with his coach, is there a bigger message the team can send here? Kapanen has been talked about as the piece that will get the Maple Leafs what they need. He may also be the piece that sends more than ripples, but waves through the locker room if moved.

Related: Should Bruins Think About Trading David Krejci?

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