Today the Maple Leafs players, Brendan Shanahan and Kyle Dubas met the media. There’s nothing very useful a hockey player can say after being ousted in what isn’t even actual playoffs. They perform hockey, they aren’t there to explain it to you, and they see the game from inside their own heads. Usually what they have to say adds up to: I’m angry/sad.
Here, you can find all the player videos posted by the Leafs. This now includes all the management conversations too.
Auston Matthews put that shoe on the other foot, and said this:
Strong statement on the state and future of the Leafs from Auston Matthews: pic.twitter.com/XiIxJmpffp— Jonas Siegel (@jonassiegel) August 12, 2020
And I think that’s fine and right he feels that way. Every NHL player should never read anything said about them, never watch TSN or Sportsnet, and the first thing they should do after signing a contract is smash the radio in their car.
When management talks after getting bounced by a non-playoff team from the non-playoffs, that’s when I tune in.
Brendan Shanahan: "I have complete faith in Kyle as a general manager, in Sheldon as a coach and complete confidence in what we're going to do here in Toronto."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) August 12, 2020
It’s a classic joke because it’s true: As soon as they say your job is safe is when you get fired, but I think this is sincere. I think there will be two new assistant coaches, however.
On the overall state of the team:
Kyle Dubas on #Leafs season: "It's not a dream, in terms of how we can play because we showed it multiple times throughout this year. Just the fact that we could not do it as often as required to reach our potential would be the most disappointing factor from my end."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) August 12, 2020
Brendan Shanahan on #Leafs play: "We're not being outclassed in these playoffs. We're not going to the playoffs and running into teams and saying like, 'wow, we're miles away.' But we're not getting over that final hurdle."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) August 12, 2020
All of that sounds like a prescription for running this same basic team out for another year. But then:
Brendan Shanahan: "Words aren't going to fix this."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) August 12, 2020
On the other hand:
”I don’t get the criticism of Mitch one bit. He plays his ass off every night, plays every situation, makes a ton of plays. Everything he does wrong, people jump all over him..."— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) August 12, 2020
Leafs GM Kyle Dubas on Marner: https://t.co/FDXNdJL7vr#TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/GxKzOcGaDd
Kyle Dubas, asked if it's possible he's misread the potential of the #leafs core group: "Nope."— Chris Johnston (@reporterchris) August 12, 2020
And yes, that was reportedly a question asked by Steve Simmons.
On the other hand (whichever hand I’m up to):
Kyle Dubas: "We're not up against the cap, contrary to everyone's belief."— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) August 12, 2020
Which is a statement that caused me to utter some profanity. Look, spin it all you want, that’s your job, Kyle, but don’t try to claim you get to believe things about arithmetic. The team as constituted barely fits under the salary cap on a short roster. If you aren’t up against the cap, you must have traded someone last night.
Dubas hints Cody Ceci's metrics internally reflected his value defensively and that that information will cast him in different light if/when data like that becomes public.— James Mirtle (@mirtle) August 12, 2020
More bad words, from me. Yes, this one is going to blow up big, because everyone (rightly) is sick to death of this, “Our secret data says the obviously not very good player with the obviously replacement-level public statistical measure is really aksually great don’t you know.” Cody Ceci was asked to do too much, largely because Tyson Barrie didn’t work out. He had some good defensive results. That’s enough said on that.
Okay, one I agree with:
Dubas on Leafs defence: "I know the defence take a lot of heat, but we allowed 12 goals, two were empty netters (for an average of two against per game), We didn’t score in the series."— Lance Hornby (@sunhornby) August 12, 2020
Which is true of the playoffs only, of course.
These kinds of player quotes from the team account are part of the overall message that the team is going to remain the same:
"We believe in our management, our staff, and our players on this team and in this organization that we’re going to power through this adversity."— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) August 12, 2020
🗨️ Auston Matthewshttps://t.co/5vpaYOInlW
And yet, they are up against the cap, and the team did perform to a poor to very poor standard defensively in the regular season. Making improvements, which everyone seems to think can come from within is going to be difficult. Nothing said today indicates they have a plan to address that other than uncover your inner better player, everyone, and prosperity is ours!
When we get the Shanahan and Dubas video or if Sheldon Keefe makes an appearance, we’ll update you.
UPDATE: the edited video list on the Maple Leafs site linked at the top of the page now includes all the interviews.
MLHS has a transcript that includes the full quote on Ceci, which reads very differently to the tweets:
When it comes to the other trades. I already gave my answer on Tyson, but the other player we brought in was Cody Ceci. It was part of a more complex trade with Nikita Zaitsev and everything that happened with him requesting a move. I know Cody is much maligned at times and he certainly doesn’t have the same level of puck skill as a lot of the others, but I think he is a player that, as we continue in hockey to track players and their contributions defensively, will be looked at much differently as those different things become much more public — not unlike they have in baseball or basketball with the defensive value of different players and their impact on the game. I was happy with Cody as well.