A lot of reflection, travel, and good living has given Joffrey Lupul time and a fresh perspective on what many viewed as a forced retirement from the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2017. After playing 280 career games with Toronto from 2011-16, Lupul went on long-term injured reserve to end his career. It was in the fall of 2017 that Lupul was edged out from the club, and his parting words cut deep.
He accused the organization of “cheating” on players’ physicals, which he had just failed. He quickly apologized for the comments, explaining how difficult it was not being healthy enough to compete, and that he’d hope to be back on the ice one day.
This was Lupul’s last post on Twitter, and it’s almost been two years since he’s done much in the public eye. On Wednesday, he joined fellow retired NHL players Ryan Whitney and Paul Bissonnette on their Spittin’ Chiclets podcast. The interview covers a lot of Lupul’s off-ice exploits — which I’ll skip over in order to continue to be employed here but nonetheless, are very entertaining for your own listening pleasure.
In regards to the end of his hockey career with Toronto, time and self-reflection have given the former all-star a different perspective. Lupul admitted he lacked confidence in his own ability to stay in the lineup with his injuries and subsequently shared his mentality nearing the end of his career.
“My mindset had changed completely,” Lupul said. “I went from driving to the game pumping Nirvana, to listening to talk radio pulling my car into the garage saying ‘please, God, get me back here in 6 hours’.”
When pushed to speak more on any frustrations with the organization at the time, Lupul replied level-headedly.
“It wasn’t really that crazy,” Lupul said. “My contract at that point was exceeding my production on the ice. I was hurt a lot. it was always something. It was my back, and then it was my groin. I couldn’t keep myself healthy. Also, I had lost the confidence. Not in my ability or skillset, just the confidence in ‘am I going to make it through this game?’”
The previously believed feeling that there was this big misunderstanding between Lupul and the organization was also discussed.
“They didn’t necessarily want me back on the team that year, and they made that pretty clear,” Lupul said. “But if I had full confidence in my body I’m sure I would have put up a big fight and been like ‘hey I don’t want to do this,’ but to be honest, I wasn’t sure.”
Lupul had realized that his body was taking a toll that might hinder his future off the ice, which wasn’t worth the risk.
“At that age, you start getting more thoughts in your head about ‘I don’t want to f*** myself up for life going forward’. I want to have kids and stuff one day,” Lupul said. “As soon as that stuff’s in your head and you’re trying to play hockey, with injuries that linger on, when that stuff gets in your head, you’re not going to be successful, and that’s kind of where I was at.”
It’s a refreshing story to hear the real raw emotions that hockey players face when suffering from injuries, and wrestling an uncertain future. Lupul says he doesn’t hold a grudge against anyone in the Maple Leafs’ organization, although he was honest that the situation wasn’t dealt with in a manor he appreciated.
“I thought the situation, from my end could have been handled a lot differently,” Lupul said. “It could have been sitting across the table from each other chatting about it, instead of how it went down.”
Any of the bitterness that may have existed back in 2017 has since turned into a fresh perspective on the life in front of him.
Today, Lupul is doing better than ever. He’s rekindled his love of snowboarding, he’s golfing regularly, and he’s still committed to fixing his injured back through yoga. He’s constantly jet-setting around the globe to see the world on sailboats and yachts. He lives on the West Coast, where he frequents A-List parties, and one time he played beach volleyball against Leonardo DiCaprio. He’s living his life with no regrets and is still preparing to settle down and be a dad one day.
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