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Maple Leafs: against all odds, Matt Murray is back in the picture
Credit: Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire

So far, the Toronto Maple Leafs are having a slightly disappointing season in 2023-24. Their 27-16-8 record isn’t bad, far from it, but it still puts the club in the hunt for a playoff spot.

It’s not a foregone conclusion, as it may have been in recent years, for example.

To explain this, we can look in particular at the club’s front line, where things have been rather unstable since the start of the campaign. Ilya Samsonov had huge setbacks earlier this season, while young Joseph Woll missed a few weeks of action.

Martin Jones has found himself with a heavier workload than expected, and while he hasn’t been bad, the fact remains that three Maple Leafs goalies have played 15 games or more this season. In the end, it’s unstable.

That said, it’s possible to forget that, on paper, Matt Murray is still part of the team, having been on the LTIR since the start of the season. There was a lot of talk about this at the start of the campaign, but we’ll come back to it later.

And just when you thought it was unlikely that he’d be back with the team this season, today, against all odds, Murray is back in the picture, having had a locker in his team’s dressing room.

In fact, no less than five of the team’s goalies had a locker: in addition to Murray and Woll (who are both on the LTIR), Samsonov, Jones and Dennis Hildeby (emergency recall) each had a locker.

Think the ménage à trois is complicated in Montreal? Imagine a ménage à cinq.

Of course, it’s still far too early to say whether Murray will make a return to action this season, but just seeing him back in the picture shows that, in the end, he may not be getting the Chris Wideman treatment.

Let’s not forget that, at the beginning of the year, many people found Murray’s placement on the LTIR rather suspicious, given that the Leafs really needed to get rid of his cap hit on the active payroll. Even other clubs were quick to criticize Toronto on the subject.

But there seems to be a door open for Murray to return to action this season. Remember that his current contract, which comes with a cap hit of $4,687,500, expires at the end of the current season.

I can’t wait to see what happens in the end.

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