John Tavares skated at the Toronto Maple Leafs’ practice facility Thursday, the first time the center has been on the ice since he sustained a concussion and knee injury in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup First Round against the Montreal Canadiens on May 20.
The Maple Leafs captain wore a non-contact jersey and was on the ice with forward Nick Foligno, who has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury.
Coach Sheldon Keefe said he was unsure if Tavares would attend Game 5 against the Canadiens in Toronto on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS). The Maple Leafs lead the best-of-7 series 3-1 and with a win would advance to the second round against the Winnipeg Jets.
“There is no real update other than he is obviously progressing here very well to the point that he’s gone through the different steps to now get onto the ice and that’s a step for him,” Keefe said. “He wasn’t on long here today but felt really good coming off, so that’s part of it. He’s got two different things the staff is monitoring with his knee and the concussion, so progress has been very good on both fronts there.”
Tavares visited the Maple Leafs on Wednesday for the first time since he was taken off the ice on a stretcher after being checked by Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot and then hit in the head by the left knee of Montreal forward Corey Perry with 9:31 remaining in the first period of Game 1.
Tavares was examined by the St. Michael’s Hospital neurosurgical team and the Maple Leafs medical director. After staying overnight, he was home the next day under the supervision of Maple Leafs doctors. The knee injury was projected to sideline him for a minimum of two weeks and no timetable was given for a return from the concussion.
“Having him back in the mix starting with yesterday getting a bit of a workout and some treatment and being around the guys was big,” Keefe said. “Today having him in the group, in the meeting, was a really great sign. I think since the morning after his injury it’s been trending towards this and he’s been communicating and talking to the guys a lot so it’s not completely new in that sense. But having him in person is a nice lift for the guys.”
General manager Kyle Dubas said the knee injury is similar to the sprained MCL sustained by Toronto forward Zach Hyman on April 18. Hyman returned from his injury to play Game 1.
“It’s huge obviously to have him back at the rink here today, getting the chance to talk to him and just spend time around him,” Maple Leafs defenseman Morgan Rielly said. “As far as his health goes, as teammates, we just want to support him. We don’t know exactly what’s going on or what his timeline is. Having him around the rink is a great sign and we are lucky to have him back so soon.”
NHL.com independent correspondent Dave McCarthy contributed to this report