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Gunnarsson done for season with separated shoulder

Carl Gunnarsson falls to the ice after a hit from Buffalo Sabres' forward Marcus Foligno.

Devin Duprey/Associated Press

The Toronto Maple Leafs are dropping like flies these days.

The latest to go down is defenceman Carl Gunnarsson, whose season is over after a big hit from Buffalo Sabres rookie Marcus Foligno separated his left shoulder in the first period of Tuesday's wild overtime affair.

The initial diagnosis Gunnarsson had that night in Buffalo was that he wouldn't required surgery, although he'll be meeting with more doctors on Wednesday afternoon.

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That it's only his shoulder, however, is good news given it at first appeared he suffered a concussion. (He also has no history of shoulder issues.)

"I've got a thick head," he joked after the Leafs finished practice.



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It's now unlikely Gunnarsson will be able to play for Sweden at home during the world championships, which are going to be held in Helsinki and Stockholm starting early next month.

"We'll see what management says," he said. "If they want me on the team and if they're willing to take a chance, depending on how long it's going to take to heal. I have no idea."

Gunnarsson joins Joffrey Lupul (shoulder), Mikhail Grabovski (leg), Nikolai Kulemin (hand), James Reimer (concussion) and David Steckel (lower body) in the ranks of the injured. The Leafs won't have to call up a defenceman, however as they were already carrying seven bodies there.

Steckel and Grabovski may play by the end of the season, even though the remaining two games don't carry a lot of meaning.

"I saw him coming and wanted to make the play," Gunnarsson said of the hit. "I guess I tried to stay with the puck a split second too long. I just thought I could kind of spin off it in a better way, but he got me good. I've just got myself to blame.

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"I was pissed off. I was mad at myself for letting me get injured; I didn't protect myself the way I should have. So I just wanted to go out there [for another shift]and keep playing. But I couldn't do it."

Gunnarsson has been one of the few Leafs to have a solid season, as he came into training camp expecting to fight for a job and ended up landing a role on the top pairing.

He finishes the season having averaged 22 minutes a night while facing other teams' top lines every game.

His plus-minus has been poor of late with the Leafs goaltending woes, but he has plenty of company there. (And if you take goaltending out of the mix, he looks fine.)

At 25 years old and on a bargain of a contract ($1.325-million) for another year, Gunnarsson will be sticking around even if GM Brian Burke is busy in the off-season.

"I was getting a lot of confidence from the coaches," Gunnarsson said of his season. "With them putting me in different situations, playing against top lines, power play and PK. From that standpoint, it's been better than last year, but I'm not happy with the season. We're not making the playoffs.

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"But I got so much time on the ice – that was nothing I expected. That was just a bonus."

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More

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