His summer of celebrity ended after his third photo shoot one naked one semi-naked and after the film festival appearances in Cannes and Toronto the concerts all over North America the courtside viewings at tennis tournaments. “Now” said Joffrey Lupul “it’s time to go back to work. It’s time to do my job.” Once upon a time being a celebrity mattered to Lupul the model-like face and voice of the Maple Leafs. He wanted to be known as more than a hockey player. He has a vast array of interests opinions and thoughts on just about everything. In a world of frozen athletes with cliched minds he is something of a hockey renaissance man. And yet probably for the first time in his life for all he does for all he goes for as often as he appears Lupul wants to be known as just a hockey player. “It’s kind of weird” he said in a lengthy interview on the eve of the commencement of Leafs training camp. “When I was younger in my career I didn’t want to be perceived as just a hockey player. I wanted to be more than that. I knew I had more to offer. “I don’t go out of my way to make appearances. These are things that interest me. Concerts. Festivals. Fashion. Magazines. Writing. I have a lot of interests outside the game. But now at my age (29) as my career hits the middle stage I just want to be perceived as a hockey player. That’s what matters most to me. It’s something I’ve grown into.” Some might say grown up to as well. Lupul has been among the leaders in the NHL in only one category in his career: Late nights. As the Hall of Fame hockey writer Frank Orr once wrote: “He’s seen Dawn more often than Tony Orlando.” The key to that sentence is past tense. Lupul used to be known as one of hockey’s great party boys. When he played for the Philadelphia Flyers as a 24-and 25-year-old he played and lived alongside Mike Richards Jeff Carter Scottie Upshall Scott Hartnell — young single millionaires living life in the big city. Living too much of life. “We had a lot of fun” said Lupul. “Maybe too much fun. “We had a bunch of guys on our team all the same age all the same way. It was the only team I’ve ever been on like that. We were best friends. We went out for dinner every night. We were young and experiencing life. We didn’t know any better.” The team with Carter and Richards almost won a Stanley Cup in Philadelphia after Lupul was traded as part of a deal with Anaheim for defenceman Chris Pronger. Carter and Richards did win their Cup with their current squad the Los Angeles Kings. Lupul is still waiting for his opportunity. He doesn’t look back and regret the partying: He regrets not understanding what off-season training could do for him how advanced his career might be now had he taken his job more seriously. “In my first five seasons in the NHL I didn’t put in the maximum preparation” he said. “I never did the extra work. I never worked on my skills. I trained. I went to practice. But I never worked extras on my skating or passing or off ice stuff like flexibility. I didn’t spend enough time. “I can do things now I couldn’t do then. It came with work hard work. It came when I took a more serious approach to playing in the NHL.” That came when it looked like his career was about to be over. Lupul had hit rock bottom as a hockey player with the Anaheim Ducks with a chronic back injury and a career-threatening blood disorder putting his future as an athlete in doubt. It wasn’t just his health that wasn’t holding up: It was also the belief in him.
Leafs' Joffrey Lupul puts party past behind him
Toronto Sun | Sep 15