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Who is allowed to be vulnerable in Leafs Land?

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Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
1 month ago
Honesty and vulnerability are inextricably linked to each other and during a summer that will naturally invite reflection and change for the Toronto Maple Leafs, who gets to be vulnerable? It became readily apparent from Friday’s end-of-year presser — if not sooner — that Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan operates by his own set of rules, aided and abetted by MLSE’s board.
Who gets to be vulnerable in Leafs Land, and how does that accelerate inevitable change?
Shanahan stated that the accountability and responsibility of the team’s constant failures during his decade in power starts with him. That’s a nice touch but it’s completely empty when MLSE CEO Keith Pelley began the conference by assuring Shanahan’s safety. Shanahan has been around for a decade, has completely overseen the heights and nadir of the Auston Matthews-Mitch Marner era, an eight-year rollercoaster that has finally strung out even the most ardent optimist.
Perhaps more to the point: Shanahan effectively fired Kyle Dubas last year for admitting that he wanted to consult with his family over whether he wanted to return as Maple Leafs’ GM. Is the same criteria in place now? Brad Treliving is Shanahan’s hand-selected successor, he’s not going anywhere, anytime soon. Sheldon Keefe paid the price and lost his job — you could argue it was deserved, as I did, he ran out of answers but he also posted a .665 winning percentage during five regular seasons and will surely get another NHL head coaching job.
So again, who is allowed to be vulnerable during this summer of change? Keefe is gone while Craig Berube and Todd McLellan are reportedly flying into town, ostensibly to interview for the head coach position. Will the calculus change if Berube or McLellan hypothetically admitted there are inherent challenges that come with coaching in a hockey-mad market like Toronto?
How does this affect the makeup of the roster, too? Auston Matthews and William Nylander aren’t going anywhere, you may as well fold the franchise if you’re considering trading the former. Mitch Marner has expressed the most vulnerability and remarked Monday that he gets treated like a god in Toronto, a realistic statement that was analyzed in bad faith as a reflection of his own ego. Perception can often be reality and Marner desperately wants to win in Toronto, he’s made that abundantly clear. Shanahan’s Shanaplan leaves no room for vulnerability and this could be a factor — albeit, a minor one — if Marner is asked to waive his no-movement clause to facilitate a move elsewhere?
Who gets to be vulnerable in Leafs Land? Parsing through the dual end-of-year media availabilities, it appears that imminent change is on the way and the easiest ticket out is to express some feelings of uncertainty in unstable times.

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