Maple Leafs GM Kyle Dubas on Saturday ripped the Toronto Sun for a “disgusting” cover photo of John Tavares after the team captain had taken a knee to the head in the team’s opening-round game vs. the Canadiens. The cover featured a caption that read, “Captain Crunched.”
The 30-year-old was stretchered off the ice in the first period on Thursday after taking an inadvertent knee from Montreal’s Corey Perry. The Maple Leafs went on to lose Game 1 of the opening round series.
“I know that the players and our coaching staff are focused on Game 2 on here tonight, but I want to address one other issue on behalf of the organization and most importantly our players and their families,” Dubas told reporters (via NHL insider Chris Johnston). “I think that situations like that garner a significant amount of coverage, but as an organization we felt yesterday that the Toronto Sun cover of their newspaper crossed the line and we found the cover to be disgusting.
“I understand and we understand here that the writers and columnists have no input into the covers of papers or headlines, but we just thought that it was extroardinarily insensitive on the part of the Sun with regards to the photo and the caption that accompanied the situation yesteray. Just a complete lack of compassion and respect on behalf of the Sun towards John and his family, especially for such an upstanding member of our organization community and his family that had to endure that.”
MORE: How long is Tavares out? Updates on Maple Leafs captain
Here is the cover in question, which ran Friday before the publication was aware of Tavares’ injury status.
When The Toronto Sun went to print this morning, John Tavares’s condition remained unknown and they still went ahead with an utterly tasteless pun on its front page.
Imagine his condition took a turn for the worse overnight and “Captain Crunched” is what these ghouls published. pic.twitter.com/tblgpJZv7Y
— Mike Beauvais (@MikeBeauvais) May 21, 2021
The Maple Leafs later Friday morning released an update on Tavares, saying he had been released from the hospital after staying overnight. He has been ruled out indefinitely with a concussion.
It was a scary moment as Tavares lay prone on the ice, especially after trainers rushed out to assess him: He was unable to hold himself up, and had to be held up to avoid causing further injury. He offered a thumbs up on the stretcher.
Sun editor in chief Adrienne Batra acknowledged the cover on Saturday before Dubas’ comments, saying the publication “meant no disrespect” to Tavares, his family or the Maple Leafs.
The Toronto Sun’s Editor In Chief responded in Saturday’s Letters section to the criticism directed towards the paper for its front-page on Friday. pic.twitter.com/EmDIgM0EmH
— Kevin McGran (@kevin_mcgran) May 22, 2021
Toronto will face Montreal in Game 2 at 7 p.m. ET on Saturday. They will do so without their center, who this season has scored 50 points (19 goals, 31 assists).