TORONTO - Flyers forward Joffrey Lupul is out indefinitely with a bruised spinal cord and a concussion after a violent collision with teammate Derian Hatcher during the 3-2 win over Toronto on Saturday.
Hatcher's open-ice hit on the Maple Leafs' Alex Steen was so hard, the defenseman's momentum caught Lupul, knocking him backward. The back of Lupul's head struck the ice. This was Lupul's fourth concussion and third as an NHL player.
The 24-year-old Lupul spent Saturday night at Pennsylvania Hospital for observation and was released yesterday.
"Lupul has been diagnosed with a mild concussion," general manager Paul Holmgren said from New York after he returned from the Czech Republic yesterday. "However, the more concerning injury is that he sustained a spinal-cord contusion at the level of his fifth and sixth cervical vertebrae, which are located in the neck area.
"It's creating some tingling sensations in his hands. The X-rays are negative on any real damage. But right now, we have to give Joffrey some complete time off. He's going to take a couple weeks off from doing pretty much everything, and then we'll evaluate him at that point two weeks from now," Holmgren said.
Though the Flyers are deep, they continue to lose core forwards. Lupul joined the sidelined Simon Gagne (concussion) and Scottie Upshall (right ankle sprain).
Gagne and Upshall are questionable for tomorrow's game in Atlanta. Gagne has missed 25 games and Upshall has missed the last three.
Holmgren said the club has not decided whether to call up a forward from the Phantoms or continue to rotate players such as Stefan Ruzicka, Denis Tolpeko and Steve Downie.
"It's very disappointing for Joffrey," Holmgren said. "Obviously, he's having a very productive season [16 goals, 19 assists]. He's been a very good player for us. We're more disappointed for Joffrey. As a team, we'll just have to deal with it."
Also questionable for tomorrow's game is winger Sami Kapanen, who required 25 stitches in the mouth after being struck by a puck shot by teammate Mike Richards during the win against the Leafs.
"[Kapanen] had some issues with some of his teeth," Holmgren said. "There were no fractures that were seen on the X-rays. We will see how he is [today]. Knowing Sami, he'll feel pretty good, although he'll probably not look good."
The NHL reviewed a punch Downie threw in the third period that nailed Jason Blake while Blake was being restrained by an official during a scrum. Downie, who has been suspended once this season, threw the punch across the official's body. Blake never saw it coming and sported a black eye. That Downie received only a double minor for roughing did not please Leafs coach Paul Maurice. "I have a very strong [opinion] that matters not," Maurice said, biting his tongue.
"I didn't [take] a good look at the play myself, but I am going to," Stevens said.
As bad as Downie's punch was, the league is not reviewing the boarding by Toronto's Pavel Kubina that severely cut Braydon Coburn. No penalty was called. . . . Flyers prospect Claude Giroux scored a goal Saturday in the Czech Republic as Team Canada won the World Junior Championship, 3-2, over Sweden in overtime. Fellow Flyers prospect James vanRiemsdyk was voted Team USA's most valuable player. The United States lost to Russia, 4-2, in the bronze-medal game. . . . Flyers defenseman Jason Smith, who has missed three games with a bruised right shin, is doubtful for tomorrow.