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Breaking: Babcock drops hint that Rielly could be out long-term

This doesn't sound good.

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Toronto Maple Leafs star defenseman Morgan Rielly suffered an injury against the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this week, and he was forced out of the team's ensuing game against the Ottawa Senators, despite having finished the game he got hurt in.

The news doesn't get any better today, as he missed morning skate ahead of tonight's match against the Colorado Avalanche.

By all, Mike Babcock was referring to Nikita Soshnikov and Nikita Zaitsev, who are both on IR.

What he said next was pretty ominous, however.

He clearly has no real clue as to when players are ready to go, as he leaves it to the sports science and medical team to handle what's best for the player in question. A similar thing happened when Auston Matthews was injured earlier this season. Babcock saw his star centre and believed he was ready to go and thought he should be on the ice. The guys behind the scenes thought otherwise, however, and kept him off the ice longer than anticipated.

We may very well have a similar case with Rielly.

The Leafs managed a strong come from behind effort against the Ottawa Senators this weekend, and this Rielly news in a way pleases Babcock.

For now, Rielly is not on injured reserve so he could theoretically be back any day, but the news is certainly not positive as we await some sort of diagnosis and timeframe of his injury.

IN OTHER NEWS... 

Babcock seems quite happy with the play of Jake Gardiner recently.

He set up this beautiful goal by Mitch Marner against the Sens on Saturday.

It happened to be nearly identical to the goal his virtual self scored in the NHL 18 video game trailer.

Marner mentioned that he plans on making the fourth line the best of its kind in the National Hockey League. Very few fourth lines have anyone with the kind of talent Marner has, so it's basically a given that it'll go uncontested for best bottom line out there.

James van Riemsdyk shared his thoughts on the passing of USA Hockey's Jim Johannson.