February 2, 2015
TORONTO– Brandon Kozun wants to play, but he’s likely still dealing with an injury that pushed him out of action earlier in the year and most recently this past weekend with the Marlies.
The 24-year-old forward had a promising start to his season after making the Toronto Maple Leafs out of training camp. A high ankle sprain five games into the NHL season, however, put him on the shelf for six weeks.
After a three-game conditioning stint with the Marlies in early December Kozun returned to the Leafs, but didn’t last long and found himself back in the AHL.
Since his demotion, he has been used in all situations with the Marlies from first line, both sides of special teams and a fourth-line role, before ultimately sitting out this past Saturday against the Utica Comets.
“A minor bump that he had,” was Marlies coach Gord Dineen’s reason for why he sat the winger. “He’s a guy that wants to play through it, but at times when you do have the type of injury he had, we gave him the night off.”
Kozun has played 18 games this season with the Marlies and has produced only five goals and eight points— highlighted by a three-point performance on Jan. 11 against the San Antonio Rampage.
His speed, which is his number-one asset, hasn’t been as noticeable of late, which is why it’s easy to think Kozun has never fully recovered from his high ankle sprain. But Dineen doesn’t believe the California native has had any issues with his footwork on the ice despite the lack of productivity.
“I don’t think he’s lost a step,” said Dineen. “For him, sometimes he’s got to get out of his own way. He’s just got to start thinking about hitting the net and making the most of his opportunities.”
Defenceman Stuart Percy also sat out Saturday’s game against the Comets with what Dineen says is an upper-body injury.
The 21-year-old blue-liner has already dealt with injuries this season, most notably a concussion that kept him sidelined six games in early January. While Dineen did confirm this recent injury is not concussion related, he couldn’t specify the exact problem or a time line for a return to action.
“We don’t know,” said Dineen when asked about a return. “He’s got an injury that right now, at first we didn’t anticipate it to be this long but it hasn’t progressed the way we would have thought.
“It’s a time sensitive thing.”
Percy’s the second defenceman to go down recently for the AHL club after it was revealed Tom Nilsson would be sidelined up to six weeks with what’s thought to be a separated shoulder. Ultimately, Percy’s injury led to an opportunity for Petter Granberg to get a call up to the Maple Leafs.
Percy has recorded one goal and six points in 20 games this season with the Marlies.
Toronto practises Tuesday before hosting the Grand Rapids Griffins on Wednesday. It’s unclear if Kozun or Percy will play.