But far from ruining it, it made it, and seven months on from leaving the southern hemisphere as an uncapped player, he is returning with five Scottish caps under his belt and a chance to bid for a Lions Test jersey.
"It has been a crazy six or seven months - a real rollercoaster for myself. Who would have thought when I left New Zealand I'd be playing for the British & Irish Lions - it's crazy," said a delighted Maitland.
"But that's rugby - one door closes and another opens. That's the way I looked at it and what happened to me with the Crusaders was a blessing in disguise.
"I could have stayed in New Zealand and given it another crack at Super Rugby, but I decided to pursue new goals and challenges in my rugby. And look where it's got me
"I am really honoured. Words can't describe the feeling of getting the first chance to prove myself to the coaches and selectors. Hopefully, I will do the jersey justice."
But while the Lions experience is all new to him, Maitland will find himself playing against an old foe on his debut, Barbarians wing Joe Rokocoko. The 68-times capped former All Black will be one of the biggest threats to the Lions as they seek to make it 11 opening games without defeat.
"I've played against Joe a few times in New Zealand - he is a legend and I have a lot of respect for him. It will be good to test myself against him," admitted Maitland.
"Conditions are going to be nice and dry and our game plan suits me. The Lions want to express themselves on the field and I just can't wait."