Toronto Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan gave his thoughts on the season while talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.
We rarely hear the Leafs boss give his thoughts on several topics and in a recent interview with TSN, Shanahan provided some thoughts on different topics.
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Talking with James Duthie, the conversation starts by discussing how the team is keeping in touch with players and that they are staying in shape as best as possible. Of course, any talk about getting back on the ice did not go anywhere which is when it turned towards the Leafs play this season.
Shanahan brought up the fact that teams lowering in the standings are not exactly pushovers like they were years ago.
"“There were some teams that you could take two periods off and still beat them. There were expansion teams that weren’t positioned very well. The preparation available to coaches wasn’t at the level it is now,” Shanahan said. “To a certain degree, the highs and lows and unexpected wins and unexpected losses are a part of, maybe, the new NHL.”"
This was certainly the case when the Leafs failed to secure a win during their Pacific road trip against the California teams who are near the bottom of the standings. Shanahan believed that has more to do with the team’s inexperience and learning how to prepare for those situations.
He also credits the team for always finding a way to step up their game when people were counting them out. Based on his thoughts, Shanahan is making it seem like the players need to develop the right habits and should be able to learn how to deal with the adversity.
Shanahan also talked with Hockey Central about Kyle Clifford and his impact since joining the team. Shanahan admits the veteran took some time to get himself going but once he did, it was clear why he was a target for the Leafs.
"“Having the ability of someone like him, you know, he has won a couple of Stanley Cups, and you learn lessons when you go through that,” Shanahan explained. “…Any time that you see a player that has a habit throughout his lifetime of hockey of finding a way to play hockey in May and June, there is probably something that player has picked up and learned along the way.”"
Clifford’s agent said recently that there is mutual interest in returning and hearing Shanahan talk about the veteran makes it seem like a possibility. Of course, there is a concern about the price tag to bring Clifford back but if he is willing to come at a decent price, the Leafs will likely pull the trigger.
We are starting to see the benefits that the veterans are having when Jason Spezza started getting more significant playing time. Sure, every team wants to draft and develop players but they also need teammates that can lead by example both on and off the ice.
What did you make of Shanahan’s comments? Do you think there is a chance we see this team start to show maturity in their play? Let us know in the comments below.