Photo Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

Shanahan Suggests in Interview: Take Less or Take A Hike

My oh my, I do not miss Lou Lamiorello.

Traditional Leafs media are running away with the quotes from today’s Shanahan interview, talking about the process with signing William Nylander. It seems that I’m guilty of it as well, as we dive into what this could mean for Nylander’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here is the full quote, from Jonas Siegel of the Athletic:

And an additional quote from Terry Koshan, of the Toronto Sun:

These are strong words from Shanahan, who is rarely one to mince his speech to the media. Essentially, he is suggesting that Nylander needs to take a discount in order to keep this team together. Clearly that was the plan when signing Tavares; the elite talent would band together with lower salaries and create a dynasty.

But, it’s not the player’s responsibility to make a dynasty. It’s the player’s responsibility to fend for themself. The sports business is a cruel one, where one injury can make your career end in the blink of an eye, and where teams feel absolutely no loyalty to players – dealing them in the middle of the night, waiving them, treating them like assets. It’s a cold, hard business.

One can’t blame management for behaving this way; it’s their job to try to do whatever it takes to make the team the best it can be.

However, that’s not the job of the player. The player has a responsibility to play, to keep themselves healthy and strong, and to be a good human being. There’s no responsibility to take a discount on what they’d earn on an open market just so the GM’s job is easier.

Ultimately, when a team comes to the press with something like this that the press eats up, there is an interest to the team to do so. It’s not to stroke the chin of the media – there’s a self-serving interest at play. Obviously they feel the need to pressure Nylander’s agents by turning the press against Nylander’s bid for what they feel is fair compensation.

There’s certainly the threat here that the team’s frustration is growing and that Nylander might be on the way out, given that the season starts today and he still hasn’t signed. But the Shanahan-led management team isn’t stupid – they’re not going to deal a player at this kind of low point, where the metaphorical gun is to their heads. The flexibility they’d gain by playing hardball with Nylander isn’t worth selling him at a loss, and they know this. GM Kyle Dubas is a former player agent and he knows how this game can be played while keeping the band together.

From a hockey perspective, this is definitely going to hurt the team in the short term, but with such a talent gap between the top 3 Atlantic Division teams (Tampa Bay, Toronto, and Boston) and the rest of the division, they can afford to be patient and let these negotiations to play out until there’s a compromise that can be made.

Because of this, in the end, the RFA hammer and media pressure should do its job and force Nylander to a contract he doesn’t want to take. A trade seems incredibly unlikely. But it should be noted that this pressure is incredibly unfair to the players who make the business what it is and earn only morsels of the entire pie, and who have their character questioned simply for having an agent that represents the only interest that the player is responsible for: their own.

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  • mst

    The thing is the Leafs are offering Nylander fair market value. Ehlers is the best comparable out there. Over the past two years they have nearly identical point totals and play the same position and were drafted one right after the other. Ehlers signed 7yrs at 6 mill per. Why is Nylander worth any more? Pasternak has scored at a point per game pace the past 2 years, way higher than Nylander and was drafted the same year as Nylander. He’s making 6.6. No way Nylander should come close to that, he’s no where near as good.

    If Nylanders jealous because he’s not going to make as much as Tavares or Matthew’s or Marner then suck it up buttercup! If you had put up the same numbers when you had your chance you’d be making those dollars. You didn’t so you wont. End of.

    I’m sick of him. Trade him to Carolina for Hamilton and move on a better team!

    • tyhee

      Do you have inside information so as to know what has actually been offered? I’ve seen speculation but no reports that have any sort of source to give them credibility.

  • Matmarwill

    Every player in the nhl knows there’s a salary cap. Every player knows that in the rfa years they get a bit of a shaft. Nylander is going to be a millionaire no matter what. How many wasted million does he want to burn on missed games? If nothing else, bet on yourself and sign a bridge. Otherwise you’re being stupid.

  • NextToAlaska

    Life aint fair. Kids already made more in 1 season of hockey then I have in my 26 years on this planet. The organization should be ruthless and use every angle or advantage it can.

    Nylander could have used the media to his advantage had he chosen to. He just got beat to the punch

  • Glen

    This should be viewed as what it is the business of hockey. Management is doing what it can to wrestle the player to the ground and the player is standing firm. The team is running a risk of turning this really nasty by trying to turn fans and media against Nylander. Nylander is losing money by been stubborn. It is worth noting that when Shanahan was 22 he didn’t like the way negotiations were going with Lou in NJ. he signed an offer sheet in ST. Louis. The old days he talks about in Detroit was pre salary cap and was a totally different era. Not taking sides here just pointing out the reality of the situation.

  • rugape

    Lets not forget Nylander played about 25% of his games without Matthews last year and scored about 10% of his total. Without Matthews, he’s a good player, not a great player. And on another team without Matthews for a year or two, his market value will be at the bridge offer now. I sure hope this kid doesn’t cut off his nose to spite his face!