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Thursday, October 24, 2013
Leafs' Rielly sticking around; Lupul limping

By Pierre LeBrun

TORONTO -- Morgan Rielly can hand in his hotel key and start looking for a real estate agent.

"Yeah, I guess so, but I’m not sure what to do, I've got to ask for some advice around here. I’ll have to ask these older guys what to do. Like how to cook and stuff," Rielly, all smiles, said after practice Thursday.

The 19-year-old Toronto Maple Leafs blueliner was given the news Thursday morning that he’ll be sticking around past the 10-game mark, an important threshold in the CBA for junior-eligible players: it signifies the first year of his entry-level contract will be burned regardless now of how many more games he plays this season.

But it was the right decision, as he’s been a solid contributor on Toronto’s blue line this season and deserved to stay at least for now.

Leafs GM Dave Nonis informed the fifth overall pick from the 2012 draft before practice.

"I was just getting dressed and he pulled me aside," Rielly said. "It was short and sweet."

All Nonis promised him was that he was sticking around past the 10-game mark. Another important marker in the CBA is whether he stays past the team’s 40-game mark, which would burn a service year from Rielly’s UFA eligibility (players are UFAs after seven years’ service).

"He told me if I keep playing well, I won’t have any problems, that won’t be an issue," Rielly said. "I guess it’s up to me now. I have to play well."

Lupul injured
Joffrey Lupul has been a dynamic offensive force for the Maple Leafs ever since coming to Toronto from Anaheim, second on the team in scoring early this season with 10 points (6-4) in 10 games.

But avoiding the injury bug has been his bugaboo. He left practice Thursday after taking a shot to the foot and went for X-rays. Word filtered out later that he joined his teammates for the trip to Columbus, where the Leafs play Friday night. GM Dave Nonis told said Lupul is day to day with a bruised foot. Josh Leivo has been called up from the AHL Marlies in case Lupul can't go.

Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle relayed frustration that Lupul wasn’t wearing shot-blocking gear -- plastic shields that cover the skate.

"It’s hard to defend the position of them not putting them on for practice," Carlyle told the assembled media after practice. "So there is a little extra frustration to get possibly an injury through practice where the protective equipment that’s made available to the player, they don’t want to wear."

At least winger David Clarkson returns for Friday’s game against the Blue Jackets after serving out his 10-game suspension. More on Clarkson in my Friday blog.