In today’s Leafs Links, Brendan Shanahan checks in with an update from quarantine including his thoughts on the odds of the 2019-20 season resuming, Toronto Marlies head Greg Moore reflects on his first season in the AHL, and former Leaf Connor Carrick provides his thoughts on the expectations that come with playing in the Toronto market.
Brendan Shanahan on odds of season resuming (TSN1050)
Brendan Shanahan joined TSN Overdrive to discuss his level of optimism around the 2019-20 season resuming as well as his time playing with the Russian 5 in Detroit.
I feel very optimistic that we are going to finish the season and have a playoff. I just don’t know when. I do think, when you talk about timelines and restrictions, there is a lot more flexibility in the NHL than people may realize. If it happens, it is probably not going to look like the way we are used to. I don’t really believe stories about these crazy neutral sites. I still think, if we are going to do this, it’s going to be in a hockey market — a market where the infrastructure for putting on hockey and hockey games is available.
I don’t think it is right around the corner. I think there are certainly a lot of important things that have to happen in the world. First and foremost, as you hear about a lot of businesses, it’s testing. It’s getting the health care services to the point where they are better prepared or equipped to put out hotspots or different things that might occur if there is a resurgence.
I don’t think it is right around the corner or anything like that, but I do think when you talk to people in the league and then you talk to players, there is such a determination to at some point finish the regular season in some form and have a playoff. When you’ve got both parties so determined to do something, and you’ve got a little bit more time than people realize, I think it will happen.
On whether there is a lot of optimism within the organization about the opportunity to in effect “reset” the season if it starts back up:
It is getting a little bit ahead of ourselves to have any sort of a plan yet. But that is what we do and other teams do as well. What else is there to do except prepare in case you do get that call or in case things do start to evolve and improve to the point where we can go and play? I think it is really highly unlikely we finish this season in front of fans, but I still think there is an appetite for hockey fans, and if the games are on TV, there are lots of things for [the media] to talk about it and it makes it pretty darn interesting. I am running out of things to watch on Netflix, so I’d be thrilled to see some sports on TV — some live sports.
Again, when the time is right, it would just be a very optimistic step for our country.
The Connor Carrick Podcast with Elliotte Friedman (YouTube)
On his new podcast, former Leaf Connor Carrick, along with guest Elliotte Friedman, discussed the expectations in Toronto.
In Toronto, they’ve had a storied history of some failures that were well documented. Right now, they are in a situation where they have moved on from a high-profile coach and they’ve moved on from a high-profile GM in Lou and Mike. Just given those two pieces, and then the additional talent and some of the salaries of the team, there is going to be a lot of expectation on that team. I don’t even know if it’s fair to judge them week-to-week. I feel like the way the Leafs have tried to run this race is to be judged, really, in ten years — to see where they’re at after this window that they’ve tried to set up and this process that Brendan Shanahan has tried to orchestrate. That is how I will judge it as a former player there and as a player now playing in the league. I am going to judge them off of a longer period of time than the reporters whose job it is to report on the day-to-day.
Greg Moore on his first season with Marlies, coaching style (TSN.ca)
Greg Moore joined Mark Masters of TSN to discuss his first season in the Marlies head coaching role, his impressions of his players, and some of the changes he’s implemented.
On who surprised him among the players on the Marlies roster this season:
Adam Brooks — a great player. Really smart. He can really make his teammates better with how he distributes the puck.
Egor Korshkov — I was really surprised. He had come back from injury and I hadn’t seen him. As soon as he got in the lineup, his ability to create offense… For a really big player, you’d think he’d have more of a power game and go north, but he really had the brains for finding space, finding his teammates. He won’t rush up the ice without finding his teammates or waiting for someone to come along with. He created 2-on-1s and played give-and-go hockey. When he does have time and space, [he was] taking the puck to the net and using his speed.
Timothy Liljegren — his mobility and his skating. He has so many tools. Really great kid. A really good teammate. Really smart. His ability to break pucks out and transition through the middle of the rink and join the line rush, he can just separate himself from people and that makes him really dangerous.
Rasmus Sandin was up for most of the season so I saw him for a really short period of time, but he is a really smart player and has a bright future.
Jesper Lindgren — really smart. Really consistent. Really steady. You might not see him as flashy as Liljegren and separating himself, but he really does a lot of good stuff. He is really smart offensively and defensively.
Mac Hollowell and Joey Duszak — really offensive defensemen. Great skaters. They have the ability to carry pucks through the middle of the ice, much like Liljegren. They create offense at offensive blue line and get activated in the o-zone. They find time and space to get pucks to the net. They really stepped up big this year at a time when we had call ups and injuries. They were a great addition to our backend.
On the changes he implemented after taking over the bench:
Not too much. The style of play was pretty similar from what I was doing in Chicago. Some of my triggers and/or my phrasing of concepts might be a little bit different in certain areas, and definitely drills — there are a few drills that I have implemented with concepts that were a bit out of the box for the players. I recognize with this age of player, it is a lot different than the junior kids.
At the start of practices, I like to do a lot of possession drills, where it may not be game realistic. It is a game within a game. These players are naturally competitive people, so you are keeping score and trying to move pucks in and out of space. How are you using teammates and how are you using that space? How are you supporting your teammates? How are you handling the puck? How is your brain identifying time and space and your options before you get the puck? There are a lot of concepts within it that we try to work on that hopefully give the players tools to use within the game regardless of what the situation is.
On why he calls dumping the puck “depositing the puck”:
When I think of dumping the puck, I think of a negative connotation. I actually got the term from John Wroblewski, who works with the US national program. He used the word deposit and I thought it was a great way to get the players to buy in to putting the puck to a place of purpose rather than dumping something into the zone. It just gave it more of a positive connotation in terms of getting the players to buy in and think about where we are placing the puck so we can recover and gain possession game.
Brian Burke on season resumption scenarios, 2020-21 cap (Sportsnet 590)
Brian Burke joined Good Show to discuss his level of optimism around the season resuming and the likely 2020-21 cap situation.
We have to play. The league’s attitude, to me, is really important. Their view is, as soon as we are cleared to play, we will be ready to play in any scenario. What the playoff format would look like, and if we can complete the regular season — whatever. They’re going to be ready to go as soon as the authorities give them the green light.
I still think we are a ways away from that, though. I can’t see this being available to us even in June. I think there is too much optimism right now about when we will be returning to play, and I can’t imagine… I think sports are really important, but right now, with police officers, EMTs, and health care workers dying daily, I can’t imagine we are high on, say, Governor Cuomo’s list of priorities.
I don’t think we are going to be able to complete the regular season. I think that is a low priority. I think we have to look at playoff scenarios. The ideal thing is that the league says, “We are going to start up June 15, finish the regular season, and then start the playoffs.” They can expand the playoff format to me. Gary has said teams that are close will get that shot. This year along, I would support an expanded playoff format, but not going forward. With Seattle coming in, 16 teams in the playoffs is plenty.
On what the drop-dead date is to save the season:
People talk like you couldn’t play up until Labour Day and still start on time. But when you look at it — people forget this — the year we won in Anaheim, there were only two teams playing in June. All of the other teams had dropped out. There are only four teams playing in the third round.
The math is daunting in the NHL — 16 teams make the playoffs, and within 10 days, it is down to eight teams. The teams that miss the playoffs, and then you add the eight that are knocked out, the vast majority are done playing in the beginning weeks of April. It is just two teams that have the long death march. The drop-dead date could be September 15th and you could start on time or push it back a little bit later.
If they say you can start on June 15, we could have a proper playoff with 16 teams. You could do a play-in scenario. The authorities are going to dictate all of this.
On what happens to the cap in 2020-21:
The players, when they came back after the first lockout, took a 24% rollback in salaries. There was a reset in the industry to adjust for the revenues of the time. Players took a 24% paycut. I can’t imagine it is going to be less than 50% now because if you don’t play the rest of the season, you’ve got about 85% of the Hockey Related Revenues for the regular season. If you have no playoffs and the season is absolutely canceled, you lose 15% of your regular season gate and all of the playoff money, it’s got to come out of somewhere. I think were headed for a major, major reset and I don’t know why people aren’t talking about it.