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John Tavares on confidence in the Maple Leafs’ core: “We’re right there”

Toronto Maple Leafs
Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Alex Hobson
1 month ago
The Toronto Maple Leafs have long struggled to overcome their playoff demons, winning only a single round through eight seasons with the core of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, and William Nylander at the forefront. But captain John Tavares still has belief.
The Maple Leafs conducted their season-ending interviews on Monday, with players and coaches speaking before management is set to speak on Thursday and Tavares touched on several topics, including what went wrong for the Leafs in the series, his belief in the core of the team, and his upcoming contract negotiations. For everything that the team should have done better in the series, he says that the tightness of their matchup against Boston and how they were one goal away from advancing to the second round plays a part in the longstanding belief in the group.
Tavares had a quiet series offensively by his standards, scoring a lone goal and adding two assists for three points in seven games. His goal was a big one for the moment, tying Game 2 against Boston before Matthews eventually iced it with the game-winning goal, but it spoke volumes about the way that the team was silenced offensively. They didn’t manage more than three goals a game once throughout the series, and you can say what you want about playoff hockey, but that’s still low for a team that finished second in the league in goals-for-per-game (GF/GP). For context, they were dead last through the first round in that category.
Tavares also touched on his desire to stay in Toronto after his contract, which has one year left on it, expires, but admitted that it hadn’t crossed his mind all that much recently.
“I haven’t put much thought into it, but I love playing here. I think it’s a remarkable place to play. When I committed here six years ago, I saw a tremendous amount of talent, an amazing hockey market, an organization that’s fully committed to winning and doing whatever it can, and I still feel that way, but I haven’t put that much thought into it and in due time that will come.”
Tavares is entering the seventh season of a seven-year contract that he signed back in July 2018, having served as captain for six of those seven seasons. Whether he returns or not likely depends on how much of a discount he’s willing to pay, but with a young family and a long term deal in his hometown already under his belt, it seems plausible the Leafs could welcome him back after this contract expires. Whether there will be an extension offered this summer, however, is still on the table.

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