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Highlights of Brendan Shanahan’s interview with James Duthie

If you’ve got 20 minutes and love anecdotes about parenting in the COVID-19 world, by all means, I encourage you to check out the full thing here. If you just want the hockey highlights and some takes on those, let’s have at it below…

“Are the players going stir crazy?”

“Most of the players have returned back to their home. Their places in the offseason.”

Honestly not a huge surprise that a lot of the players have fled their Toronto condos for their offseason homes, and that it’s largely based on where they can train better, as condo gyms are off limits and probably not going to cut it anyway. Being around a good support group will help, and Shanahan notes that the players have been pushing each other to stay in game shape and work on strength training, while Dubas has been the communications point person for Hockey Ops.

“How do you plan for the different scenarios?”

A couple of times in the interview Shanahan dodges the question about what specific scenarios he would prefer for the season resuming. His response is generally to support the format that best fits the time they have, and given that the league has asked for dates up until August, that doesn’t really provide much clarity.

Shanahan also notes how a lot of what happens is out of the control of the league, and that he is choosing to be optimistic that hockey will be back at some point, but it will look different. Teams are just trying to be set for when things are ready to go.

“Do you foresee the Leafs reducing salaries or cutting staff?”

It has to be encouraging for MLSE employees that Shanahan has noted that there has been no discussion of layoffs or reduced salaries at this point, and the organization remains supportive.

“How much were you looking forward to Auston Matthews hitting 50?”

Shanahan noted that to Auston, his goals are more about giving the Leafs the best chance to win, and he has the right priorities. Shanahan does note that it is a special number, and would be a big deal, but Auston will get his chance to do it again.

Duthie also notes that only Ovechkin, Lemieux, Bure, and Bossy had better goals per game totals than Matthews in their careers.

Leafs Rollercoaster Season

It was interesting to hear Shanahan put a lot of the challenges the Leafs have had this year on their inexperience and youth, and that the team could benefit from more of a veteran presence, as well as learning to play more consistently.

Shanahan does note the team has overcome a lot, and is thrilled to have watched them pull themselves into a playoff spot.

My thoughts

It’s certainly nice to get these extended interviews with Leafs leadership lately, but there isn’t a whole lot to unpack here. It seems the Leafs are okay with any form of closing out the 2019-20 season as long as they get a chance to do so, and while Shanahan certainly keeps his optimistic spin on it, the fact that he regularly points out that it’s truly out of the hands of the league is probably a good reminder that we should just be happy if the 2020-21 season starts on time.

In regards to his comments about the Leafs youth and inexperience, that was a tad surprising, given that the team has brought in some experience in the form of Tavares, Spezza, Muzzin, and Barrie in recent years, but perhaps there is still a better balance that needs to be found.

The silver lining of all this is that MLSE seems to be staying the course on doing right by their employees, and that is the best thing we can see from the team right now.