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Rick Zamperin: Injured John Tavares means bad news for the Toronto Maple Leafs

Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares, right, celebrates his goal with right wing Kasperi Kapanen (24), of Finland, during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3.
Toronto Maple Leafs center John Tavares, right, celebrates his goal with right wing Kasperi Kapanen (24), of Finland, during the third period of the team's NHL hockey game against the Washington Capitals, Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2019, in Washington. The Capitals won 4-3. AP Photo/Nick Wass

Just two weeks after he was introduced as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, John Tavares got the bad news.

He is going to be out of action for at least two weeks with a broken finger.

Tavares apparently suffered the injury late in Wednesday night’s 4-3 loss in Washington, either before or after he scored his third goal of the season late in the third period of that game.

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Losing Tavares is a big omission for Toronto on a number of fronts, as he will miss upcoming games against Boston (twice), Columbus, San Jose, Montreal and Washington — and maybe a few more.

Not only is Tavares off to a decent start to the 2019-20 NHL season with three goals and four assists in eight games, but not having the $11 million man in the middle of one of their top two lines will create a big ripple effect for the Leafs.

Leafs coach remains unsure of which players will fill winger roles in John Tavares’ line
Leafs coach remains unsure of which players will fill winger roles in John Tavares’ line

The first question is who fills that gaping hole in the lineup?

Head coach Mike Babcock could elevate third line centre Alex Kerfoot to play in between Mitch Marner and Trevor Moore, but Kerfoot has fit in nicely with wingers Kasperi Kapanen and rookie Ilya Mikheyev.

READ MORE: Carlson leads Caps to first home win, 4-3 over Maple Leafs

Another option is to insert Jason Spezza into Tavares’ spot because the veteran centre has some offensive upside, but will he be able to keep up with slick skaters like Marner and Moore?

No matter how you slice it, the Maple Leafs are going to miss their captain.