I haven’t been the guy that preaches about having to make big moves because of a bad game, or even a bad stretch of games. I was immensely disappointed in the teams play against the Columbus Blue Jackets last season, in their play against a zamboni driver turned NHL goalie last year, and their general refusal to not be able to take the battle of Ontario seriously this year.
After all of those things I have questioned this core’s ability to compete, but have tried to pass it off as a lack of maturity (which includes implementing the necessary will and effort) on the ice, rather than a lack of skill and general commitment.
In short, I’ve felt that the core is good enough, but convinced myself that they simply needed time and patience to learn how to win in the playoffs.
All of that to say that I have been trying not to be the fan that overreacts.
Now, with the simplest of things, I’m starting to wonder if it’s not just the team, but the front office and coaching staff that lacks the maturity and wherewithal to do what it takes to implement a winning culture and habits into this group:
Accountability indeed. William Nylander is being held accountable…… how? By having “really good discussions” is it?
Now, I’m not saying that Sheldon Keefe needs to go “John Tortorella” on this not-a-youngster-anymore star player, but being everybody’s buddy in the room is a recipe for disaster as well.
So, what’s the thinking here? It could be due to injuries:
If the head coach is thinking the injuries are too much and that’s why he needs Nylander in the lineup I get it, but I also disagree. If anything I would say that scratching him at this point would only drive the point home even more. That point being that he isn’t above the team and needs to start taking meetings, practices and all things to do with the jersey seriously. A clear message should be delivered here, that they don’t need you that bad and will march on without you if you decide to skirt the rules.
After all, at 24 years old things can’t be brushed aside due to lack of maturity anymore. This is the player’s 5th full season in the NHL. He knows the rules and, you would hope, he knows there are consequences when those rules aren’t followed.
The problem there, apparently, is there are no consequences to breaking the rules.
That’s why I’m not looking at William Nylander for this, I’m looking at Sheldon Keefe, his boss and his bosses boss. It’s those individuals that need to steer this ship in the right direction and, to me, if what you’re doing hasn’t worked on a player that is in his 5th full season in the NHL then you need to stop being his friend and go in another direction. You need to start being his boss.
The man should sit.
As for the game tonight, we could see Rasmus Sandin draw into the lineup. With the team hoping to give the powerplay a punch in the arm, they are pulling out all the stops.
I hope the kid plays well if he does end up in the lineup, because the team could really use a good story right now.
It also appears that David Rittich will get another start for the Leafs:
Rittich has drawn into a couple of games already and while he hasn’t looked bad, the team hasn’t managed to get him his first win either.
Here’s hoping he gets his first taste of winning in Toronto.
Enjoy the game.
GO LEAFS GO!!