Toronto Maple Leafs: The hypocrisy of Brendan Shanahan

PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: (L-R) Brendan Shanahan and Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs talk on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA, PA - JUNE 28: (L-R) Brendan Shanahan and Brian Burke of the Toronto Maple Leafs talk on Day Two of the 2014 NHL Draft at the Wells Fargo Center on June 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan wants William Nylander and his colleagues to make financial sacrifices for the sake of the team, but has conveniently forgotten events during his own playing career.

As we reported on ThursdayToronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan decided to throw in his two cents’ worth in respect of the William Nylander situation. And on the surface at least, his comments seemed reasonable enough.

Shanahan essentially said Nylander and the other star players should be prepared to make financial sacrifices, in respect of keeping together a team with a projected long-term window of opportunity as Stanley Cup contenders. As reported by Joshua Clipperton of The Globe and Mail, he said:

"“When I get together with some of my old mates from the Cup years in Detroit … we talk about winning together and growing together, and that’s what we remember. We all found a way to fit with each other so that we could keep adding to the group. That’s obviously what we’re asking some of our young leaders to do.”"

Again — in theory — Shanahan is correct. However, he seems to be conveniently forgetting about certain aspects of his own career, when it comes to making money.

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One specific example came when the Hall of Famer sat out the first half of the 2008-09 season, after being unable to agree terms with the New York Rangers.

While its true the Rangers never tendered Shanahan an offer following the previous season, negotiations did eventually take place. However, he still had no issue sitting out half a season, waiting for an offer which he deemed appropriate, despite coming off his least productive campaign since his rookie year.

Even the 49-year-old’s reference to the championship success during his tenure in Detroit is forgetting certain factors. For a start, teams weren’t compromised by having a salary cap in place.

In addition, as noted by Ryan Lambert of Yahoo Sports, the Red Wings’ wage bill for the 2002 Stanley Cup winners team was $65 million. Without Nylander, the Leafs’ projected cap hit for this season is actually less, at just over $64.7 million.

Considering we are now 16 years down the road from that 2002 championship team, this makes for surprising reading. Shanahan’s argument that the Red Wings’ players made sacrifices, just doesn’t hold as much weight.

It doesn’t help when reports are out there that the Leafs may make an exception with their young stars, when it comes to Auston Matthews. TSN‘s Pierre LeBrun reports that Matthews could be in line for between $12-$12.5 million, when it comes time to sign his next contract.

While Matthews is certainly more valuable to the Leafs you can still appreciate Nylander’s stance, even if you don’t entirely support it. Why should he make such a sacrifice, if the rest of the young core isn’t going to follow suit?

Now, this doesn’t mean we are 100 percent in Nylander’s corner. Assuming the speculation that he is demanding more than $8 million per season is true, this is too much.

The 22-year-old may well be worth more than the apparent $6 million per season the Leafs are offering him, but not that much. Given his production up to this point of his career, somewhere around $6.7 million would be reasonable, for both sides.

One final factor to consider is that Nylander can theoretically make more money through sponsorship and advertising in Toronto, as opposed to most other NHL teams. We assume he is already aware of this but it’s worth repeating, especially in the — at this point — unlikely event he gets traded if no new deal is negotiated.

Overall, Shanahan should really have kept his comments private, or at the very least think them through further before speaking to the media. Regardless, it will be interesting to see how far Nylander is prepared to go with his position, as he is now losing money every day he remains unsigned.

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What do you make of Shanahan’s comments regarding Nylander? Whose side are you on — if either – and why? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.