The Toronto Maple Leafs shouldn’t let Dave Bolland play before the Olympic break and instead let the center have an extra two weeks to prepare for his return.
Bolland has said recently he hopes to return before the Olympic break, but the Maple Leafs don’t have much to gain from putting him into the lineup early. Toronto only has four games remaining before the two-week break, and given how well they’ve been playing lately they can afford to give Bolland an extra two weeks of preparation.
In a perfect world, Bolland would likely want to be in the lineup when the Vancouver Canucks visit Toronto on Feb. 8. After all, it was on Nov. 2 in Vancouver where Bolland was hurt by Zack Kassian’s skate which has cost him the past three months of the season. It would be an emotional story if Bolland was able to return in time to play well against the team he was injured against.
However, Toronto isn’t desperate to have Bolland back in their lineup given their 8-1-1 record in their past 10 games. There’s no doubt the Maple Leafs would like to have Bolland back but not if it risks an early setback where he could be lost for even more time this year. Therefore, it would be in Toronto’s best interest to wait until after the Olympic break to place Bolland back into the lineup.
During the Olympics most NHLers will be watching the games as opposed to participating in them, and once the Olympic break is over players will need time to work off any rust accumulated from not playing at a high level for two weeks. The first few games after the Olympics won’t be near the same intensity as normal given the long layoff, and as a result it’ll provide Bolland his best opportunity to get back to playing at the NHL level.
There’s no benefit to rushing Bolland back if it’ll be for a game or two when an extra two weeks of rest is just around the corner. The risk of playing Bolland early doesn’t outweigh the value of helping to secure Bolland’s health in the spring.