Brendan Shanahan staying put with Maple Leafs, ‘Everything is on the table’ with roster

Even though he has only won one playoff round in 10 years as president of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Brendan Shanahan remains in Toronto.

Keith Pelley, new CEO of Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, announced the news during Friday’s end-of-season press briefing with Leafs management.

“Brendan Shanahan is the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He’s a champion,” Pelley said.

When asked, Shanahan declined to clarify the status of his contract – including the remaining length of his current contract.

“My contract status won’t be a distraction,” Shanahan said.

Shanahan sat between Pelley and Leafs general manager Brad Treliving. Much like former head coach Sheldon Keefe did multiple times before being fired on Thursday, Shanahan was blamed for the lack of playoff success during his tenure with the Leafs.

“The ultimate responsibility rests with me. The onus is on me,” Shanahan said. “Our results in the playoffs were not good enough. It’s my fault.

All three executives struck a nerve, attempting to show visible frustration with the Leafs’ recent results.

“Good just isn’t good enough,” Pelley said. “We have to win. Nothing else matters. You’ve probably heard this before. But I’m committed to it 1,000 percent.

Pelley seemed determined to stick with what he saw and not make changes for the sake of it. How will this be done?

Under Shanahan, the Leafs have qualified for the playoffs each of the past eight seasons. Their only series victory came in 2023 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Leafs lost in the deciding final game of the first round in 2018, 2019, 2020, 2021, 2022 and 2024 under Shanahan’s leadership.

Pelley said he’s seen enough since taking over April 2 to continue with Shanahan at the helm of the Leafs management structure.

“I always believed that the formula for success was great skill combined with chemistry and unity. And in the midst of adversity in the first series down 3-1, I got a complete glimpse of the chemistry and unity between (Treliving) and (Shanahan),” Pelley said. “I cannot comment on what has happened over the past few years, but I can tell you that chemistry and unity are the essential elements that add together competently to achieve success. And winning means winning the Stanley Cup.

“I wake up every day with the goal of trying to add and make the Maple Leafs better,” Shanahan added.


Sheldon Keefe is out. Brendan Shanahan’s case for staying has never been weaker

Keith Pelley speaks publicly

Friday was Pelley’s first public appearance before the media.

He didn’t answer as many questions as Treliving and Shanahan, but he laid out his vision for the Leafs while insisting fans shouldn’t get into the habit of hearing from him often.

“Good just isn’t good enough,” Pelley said. “I can assure you that this is the collective position of ownership. When I asked during the interview, “What was the owners’ definition of success?” » One of them said immediately and emphatically: “Just win.”

Pelley admitted it’s difficult to win in the NHL “where the rules and regulations favor competitive balance” but suggested the Leafs will continue to spend heavily on resources surrounding the roster, as they have for a long time.

At least publicly, Pelley said all the right things.

He tried to downplay the idea that the Leafs organization is comfortable with complacency.

“We are not here to sell jerseys. We are here to win. We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen,” Pelley said.

And he was determined to believe that results were bound to come – and soon – for the Leafs under his leadership.

A serious roster change could be coming

Nine years ago, Shanahan truly planted the seeds of “Shanaplan,” as it is commonly known.

“The challenge here in Toronto is not to develop a plan. The challenge in Toronto is to stick with it,” Shanahan said in April 2015.

From that point on, Shanahan continually gambled on his key players getting results and preached patience with his team amid continued playoff losses.

But on Friday, Shanahan showed the first signs of needing to break with his plan.

“I still believe there are times when patience is the right decision. However, when you see trends persist and results don’t change, you need to adjust the way you look at things,” Shanahan said.

“We’re going to look at everything this summer. We will reflect on everything this summer. All this with the intention of the only thing we are here to do: make the Maple Leafs better and win.

Shanahan declined to talk about potentially moving specific members of the team’s core who have one year remaining on their respective contracts — Mitch Marner and John Tavares — but when pressed, he doubled down on his desire to at least investigate changing the Leafs roster.

Significant roster moves, like those Leafs management is considering, often happen around the NHL draft at the end of June and free agency a few days later.

But when it comes to roster changes, one might expect Treliving more to target the free agency market: players who can combine the required skill level with high levels of competitiveness and physicality.

“I think Brad brought in a few guys last summer – not necessarily with Stanley Cup rings on their fingers – but he brought something to the team that we aligned with and had a lot more grit.” , Shanahan said. “Frankly, Brad demanded that the players play more like a fraternity and a band of brothers. I think they adopted it.

“You score differently in the playoffs than in the regular season. Is it systematic? Is it staff? Treliving added rhetorically. “We didn’t score enough. Our special teams weren’t good enough. And we seem to make the other team’s goalie the first star every night.

Sheldon Keefe out, next head coach arrives

On Thursday, the Leafs fired Keefe. Keefe had won the team’s only playoff round since 2004, but the continued lack of postseason success was enough for Shanahan and co. to show Keefe the door.

Treliving insisted he believed in Keefe, but change was still needed.

“I was convinced that a new voice was needed,” Treliving said. “That’s the unfortunate part of this matter.”

The first task facing Treliving in what could be a busy summer will be finding a new coach. He declined to comment on the specific names of available coaches, such as Stanley Cup winner Craig Berube, but said, “We want to be thorough, but we also understand that there are other openings.” »

And so, from the looks of it, Treliving won’t immediately rush to make a decision despite Berube and other coaches with long resumes such as Todd McLellan and Gerard Gallant being available.

But Treliving is also aware that if they wait too long, some top candidates could be selected, including the New Jersey Devils, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets among the teams looking for a new coach -chief.

“There are good coaching candidates. We intend to explore them,” Treliving said.

Goalkeeper situation

Treliving was at his most animated when discussing the state of the Leafs’ goaltending situation. The Leafs were beaten by an elite-looking Jeremy Swayman in their series loss to the Bruins and have already come up against better goalies in their other series losses, including Andrei Vasilenskiy and Braden Holtby.

The need for improvement between the pipes is high on his priority list.

“We have to put ourselves in a position where we don’t have the second-best goaltender in each of these series,” Treliving said.

First, reading between the lines, it seems obvious that Treliving and the Leafs will not be looking to extend a contract extension offer to Ilya Samsonov.

“Ilya’s contract is over,” Treliving said succinctly.

The objective will then be to find someone to play alongside Joseph Woll.

“I have confidence in (Joseph Woll),” Treliving said.

In his first full season with the Leafs, the 2016 third-round pick posted a .907 save percentage in 25 regular season games. He suffered a serious ankle sprain midway through the season. When called into the playoffs in relief for Samsonov, Woll showed his best and posted a .964 save percentage in three appearances.

But Treliving was quick to point out that he questions why Woll has been continually injured since joining the Leafs organization in 2019.

“We would like to explore this further. Sometimes bad luck happens. Is there a training issue we need to address? said Treliving.

It remains to be seen whether Treliving will look for a real number 1 to play in front of Woll or a goalkeeper to play in a tandem. But like other positions within the organization, changes are coming to the goalie position.

Injury Updates

Treliving provided some recent injury updates:

• Auston Matthews became ill late in Game 2 against the Bruins from a virus that remained in his system during Game 3. During Game 4, he suffered a hit that later presented the possibility of what Treliving called “head injury issues.” Matthews said those issues were resolved just before Game 7.

• Bobby McMann suffered a sprained knee during the April 13 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. The Leafs anticipated he would have been available if they had advanced to the second round of the playoffs.

• William Nylander suffered from “severe migraines” before the start of the playoffs. The Leafs considered the possibility he suffered a concussion.

• Joseph Woll suffered a back sprain late in Game 6.

• Connor Dewar underwent shoulder surgery Friday. Treliving predicted Dewar would be available for training camp, which also suggests the RFA will stay with the Leafs.

(Photo by Brendan Shanahan and Brad Treliving: Dan Hamilton / USA Today)

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