Brad Treliving’s first steps are most vital as new Maple Leafs GM

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Barden
10 months ago
As Brad Treliving stepped up to the podium — pulling a word-filled piece of paper out of his suit jacket, with his wife Julie and daughters Ryann and Reese watching from the front row — you could begin to feel change set in with the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Treliving’s first message as the GM in Toronto was clear: “There’s a special feeling when you come in here as a visitor, when you come in here scouting, when you come in here as a fan.
“It’s the Leafs. It means something.”
The first press conference of Treliving’s tenure as Maple Leafs GM, at least to me, was a successful one. Every question that was asked, he had an answer to.
Whether it be how he’ll approach the contract negotiations of Auston Matthews and William Nylander this summer, all the way down to what his plan is to work with all of the staff within the Maple Leafs organization.
“Part of the draw here is the work that people have done before me, most recently Kyle (Dubas), who’s really good at what he does, and I’m the beneficiary of that.” Treliving said to the media inside Scotiabank Arena.
“I’m going to sit with those people, and we’re going to have discussions and we’re going to find out specific roles. If there’s areas where we can help ourselves, and look at people to bring in, we may do. But again, I think we’ve got really talented people here, now I got to get to know them.”
If we’re speaking critically, the number one priority for Treliving is getting Matthews — who has one year left on his deal and can sign a new contract on July 1st — to re-up with the Maple Leafs prior to next season.
It seemed as though it would be a tall task when Dubas parted with the organization, however now it feels like there’s a possibility it gets done sooner rather than later.
“I’m glad we waited so long to get to that topic,” Treliving said, bursting with a grin to the Toronto Sun’s Terry Koshan, who got the first question of the availability and asked about Matthews’ contract.
The new Maple Leafs GM said he’s “communicated” with Matthews via text and the hope is that they can meet face-to-face, so the two can get to know each other.
“Getting to Auston is a priority,” Treliving said. “But outside of the contract stuff, number one is just getting to build that relationship. It’s not walking down and trying to arm wrestle about contracts, it’s getting down and me getting a chance to meet him, but more importantly, having Auston get a chance to meet me, know what we’re about, and just talk a little bit.
“That’s priority number one.”
The future of Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe is also of precedence.
When new general managers join a team, sometimes they might want their own guy at the helm on the bench. However, Keefe’s success in the past has slowed the process of whether or not Treliving will want to bring in a new head coach.
“There’s a lot of things that are priorities, Sheldon is as well,” said Treliving. “As I said to him, it’s a little unique situation. We can call it whatever we want. We’re all big boys here. There’s been a change, he’s in a unique situation, but that’s the business.
“My outside lense of Sheldon — I look at a team with the last two years as a full-time coach, 115 points, 111 points (in the regular season). I think he’s a really good coach. My view is, determining whether a guy is a good, bad, or indifferent, you have to work with him. You have to get to know him. So we’re going to sit down, we’re going to go through it. I’m coming in with no preconceived notions.”
After the last two playoff exits, many around the Maple Leafs, whether it be media or fans, have toyed around with the idea of moving one of Toronto’s key players. It could be Matthews, William Nylander, or possibly even Mitch Marner.
Dubas left the door open to moving one of those players before he ultimately went out the door himself.
But the big question is — after Treliving made a blockbuster trade almost one year ago with Calgary — would he make a similar trade to that again as Toronto’s GM.
“Having those players excites me,” Treliving told reporters. “We’re going to review everything. I want to stress strongly: I’m not about coming in and making a statement. You can throw a body onto the tarmac and it might look good for a headline, but are you getting any better?
“At the end of the day, it’s about getting better. And just being different doesn’t just necessarily make you better. The other thing I’ll say on that is, this idea of the core four and all those types of things, my job is to protect them. I’m fiercely protective of my players. But this can’t be about the core four, this is about the Toronto Maple Leafs.
“It’s not about four players, it’s not about two, it’s not about one. It’s about the 23 guys that we’re going to have in this organization. I understand the spotlight’s bigger here, I understand we’re so fortunate to have all you people that care greatly about this team because of the fanbase we have. But it’s about the Leafs.
“And the success of this team, or whatever challenges we have, isn’t because of four guys or two guys or one guy. It’s about the group and for a manager coming in, I’m pretty lucky to have the talent that those four represent, as well as everybody else on this team.”
Treliving was pushed further on the question, though, which was: “So you’re not opposed to a big move?”
“We will look at all things.” Treliving said.

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