For now, the Toronto Maple Leafs don’t need to worry about losing oft-injured Joffrey Lupul for any games.
The National Hockey League on Friday fined the left-winger $10,000 US for cross-checking Detroit forward Patrick Eaves during Wednesday’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Mich.
The fine is the maximum allowed under the collective bargaining agreement and less than one-fifth of one per cent of Lupul's $5.25-million salary.
There was concern that Lupul might draw a suspension from the NHL's department of player safety for the cross check that caught Eaves near the head and neck area. His intent was to contact the shoulder but Eaves was leaning on the play.
"I felt bad," Lupul told reporters after the game at Michigan Stadium. "I went to cross check him in the arm and it kind of hit him [upwards]. It was certainly an accident."
Lupul was assessed a two-minute minor penalty on the play.
"I know Joffrey's not out there to hurt anybody," Lupul's teammate Nazem Kadri said. "He's a pretty innocent player, plays hard and clean.
"Honestly it was just one of those things they were both battling, both bent over. I don't even think Joffrey was looking at him at the time. It was, to me, pretty obvious that he didn't really mean to do it."
Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle said his team had options if Lupul was suspended, including bumping David Clarkson (three goals, five assists in 30 games) or rookie Jerry D'Amigo up the lineup.
That won't be necessary.
Carlyle explained his perspective on Lupul's cross-check as a response to a hit just before from Detroit's Jakub Kindl.
"I'm sure he wasn't responding to Eaves — he was responding to Kindl," Carlyle said. "It was unfortunate that his stick did come up, and he did what he did."
Last season, Lupul was barred two games for a head shot against Tampa Bay defenceman Victor Hedman.
Lupul is 5-for-5 in shootouts this season and has 21 points in 33 games.
The $10,000 goes to the players' emergency assistance fund.
Counting the pre-season, the Leafs have endured six suspensions that have cost them a total of 19 regular-season games. Players have so far forfeited $527,177.48 in salary after Lupul's fine.