To play with your heart or your head: It's a fine line hockey players deal with every time they step on the ice in games and even in practice apparently.

And it's an issue Maple Leafs coach Randy Carlyle felt obliged to address again on Thursday as he ran the risk of losing another front-line forward.

On the eve of David Clarkson's return from the 10-game suspension that has achingly delayed his debut with his hometown team the Leafs coach was faced with the possibility of Joffrey Lupul missing time with a bruised foot after being on the receiving end of a shot in practice.

Differing circumstances but in each case the "boys will be boys" mentality that has been part of pro hockey since Carlyle played the game was a cause for concern.

First to Lupul who had the foot examined on Thursday after being nailed with a puck during an up-tempo rush drill. The high-scoring winger was to join the team charter to Columbus for Friday's game against the Blue Jackets but team officials listed him as "day-to-day" with a bruised foot.

As a result forward Josh Leivo was recalled from the Marlies just in case. Lupul hobbled off the Mastercard Centre ice midway through the morning session prompting Carlyle to implore his players to wear better foot protection especially during practice.

"The new equipment the shot blockers are available to all our players" Carlyle said. "It's hard to defend the position of them not putting it on for practice. So there is a little extra frustration or whatever word you want to use to get an injury (in) practice where the protective equipment that is made available to the player they don't want to wear.

"We've addressed it once and everybody's been fitted but there's a couple of players who refuse to wear it."

To be fair Carlyle didn't rant like an angry parent about the issue appropriate given he never wore a helmet during his playing career. But with the team already losing Nikolai Kulemin for the past eight games with a similar injury you can understand the team's frustration.

At least Clarkson is guaranteed to be back in the lineup on Friday the long-awaited return after doing his time for coming to Phil Kessel's rescue from Buffalo Sabres goon John Scott in the pre-season.