Every year, when the season is over, the players have a media availability in the locker room, one last time. This year, like last, it’s yet another video chat, which just means you can see the player better when he’s not surrounded by people.
It began with the captain and then the leadership group:
He gives a short update on his health and then makes a statement about the season. He says all the right things about taking responsibility and working towards next season.
He says, when asked, that Corey Perry got in touch with him right away, and he doesn’t think anyone was trying to hurt him, but they were establishing a physical game. “That’s part of playoff hockey.”
He hasn’t watched a replay of the hit, and discusses how everyone has reacted so strongly to it, that he thinks he might not look at it. He emphasizes how many times his family saw the video and how hard that was for him.
Jake Muzzin does not seem happy to have to do this again, and he has a right to his displeasure. He talks about the team needing urgency every night. He says his injury was a groin issue, and he doesn’t expect it to be a problem. He says it happened right on the ice in the video we’ve all seen, and he had not been previously injured.
“We can’t be easy to play against, or we won’t get it done in the playoffs.”
Morgan Rielly thanks the media off the top, because he’s that kind of guy.
He calls this playoffs an opportunity lost.
When asked about his UFA status next summer, he gives the standard answer that he hasn’t thought about it much. No one is going to give out contract news at these events.
He believes they were well prepared for the final games, but like the other players, with the exception of Muzzin, he has no real answers, but he seems to think it’s on the players to step up.
Unsurprisingly, Spezza says he’d like to be back for another year due to the unfinished business. He suggests that if they’d got a lead in any of those three games, they would have been tough to beat. But not closing out one of those games leaves him feeling empty.
He also gives an endorsement of Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner when asked. He says specifically that they have improved their professionalism.
The big three:
As most people know, Mitch Marner’s agent made a statement today:
Mitch Marner's agent, Darren Ferris, on the alleged power-play issue: "It is seriously concerning when certain media feel insulated from taking accountability for what they say, even when they know it to be false or distorted beyond reason." #Leafs— Terry Koshan (@koshtorontosun) June 2, 2021
Marner is not very happy in this video. I think people will try very hard to take this media performance as flippancy, but I don’t think that’s fair. He’s not a great speaker on good days, and he looks very wrecked here.
He says about the refusal to play on the power play that “It’s a complete lie”.
He does think his line was very good, and doesn’t see that he needs to do anything differently in the future. They got chances, but the puck didn’t go in the net. It’s interesting to contrast his comments about that with Hyman’s, so be sure to watch both because Hyman sounds a lot more ready to consider this wasn’t just bounces not going in.
At the end, he’s asked a question about the four players eating up half the salary cap, and it’s always funny when someone asks a player this. He defers to the management team who are actually in charge of that.
When asked, he has good things to say about Phil Danault. When asked if they have a mental block keeping them from winning big games, he does agree it’s more mental than any lack in the way the team plays.
He gives a spirited defence of Marner when asked about the idea that Marner might be traded, and like Marner, he says he doesn’t pay attention to that. Which is good, he shouldn’t. No players should read their press, good or bad.
He is asked about the salary cap spread and just deflects the question because, like with Marner, he’s not the guy to talk about that.
The only player who can be at all cheerful about his playoff performance isn’t resting on his own laurels. He talks about coming out slow in the final games, and says they might have been too relaxed.
Personally, he says he wanted to play well to avoid this feeling he has now.
The will you be back interviews:
The one man who didn’t play in the playoffs is asked almost entirely about the future.
It’s very clear from the tone of this interview that no one is pretending he’ll be back, but that’s not officially said. He does say he likely played too much too hurt.
Hyman is also asked about his contract status, and gives the standard answers. But he says he has not discussed this with Kyle Dubas.
He also talks about how they had chances, but didn’t score, and he suggests that they need to find some dirty goals more.
On his future, Simmonds says he doesn’t know what his future will bring.
Joe Thornton says he hasn’t had time to think about playing next year, but he needs time to be a dad first. He sounds like he does want to play, but he also says no decision has been made.
His feeling on the series is that a team has to start fast, and keep playing to close out the games. So he’s talking about consistency, the same word we’ve been hearing for years. But he thinks the Leafs are a good team that will rebound quickly.
He never really says anything about his injury, but says he’s fine now. As we all saw in the playoffs.