Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Detroit Red Wings
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Fresh off of his signing his new eight-year contract extension, Morgan Rielly met with the media to discuss securing a long-term future in Toronto.

What does the new deal mean to you?

Rielly: It means a lot. It has been a good process. On both sides, I think it was pretty respectful. I am just glad it is over.

What do you like most about being in Toronto and with this team?

Rielly: It just means a lot. Over time, you get comfortable. You start to feel passionate about what you do for a living. That is all it is. I have gotten to that point here in Toronto where it really feels like home. It is a pretty cool feeling.

What is it about the organization that didn’t tempt you to maybe test the market this summer?

Rielly: It is just the way the organization operates from Larry and Judy Tanenbaum all the way down — the quality of the day in and day out work by the players and the staff all the way through. Every day that I have been here since 2012 has been first class. That is the standard around here. It is a pretty special place to be.

Your teammates surrounded you on the ice in celebration. What was that like to be a part of?

Rielly: That was fun. I told Keefer not to say anything, but he did anyway. It was fun. It is a good feeling when you are around your friends and they feel happy for you. It is a big relief for sure.

Have you thought of what it might mean to play your entire career here?

Rielly: Yeah. I try not to think about it too much before today because it’s not all that common, it is very difficult to do, and I haven’t done that yet by any means. It is hard not to let your brain wander a little bit now.

Is it a relief that you don’t have to worry about it this season?

Rielly: Yeah. I feel very good right now. I felt good in training camp. You go about things in a certain way. I don’t want to be a distraction. I kind of had a feeling that it was going to get done at some point, but you just try not to think about it. The way it got handled from both sides was good.

The organization is showing faith in you but you are also showing faith in what Kyle Dubas is building here. What gives you that faith without the playoff success as of yet?

Rielly: The faith goes both ways. I believe in the group we have here and the people we have in our locker room. For the team to offer me that notion of faith is pretty special, too. I look forward to holding up my end of the bargain in trying to accomplish the ultimate goal.

How much room do you feel you have to grow as both a player and a person?

Rielly: Lots. I think that is the goal, ultimately — to improve both as a human being as a hockey player year after year. That is the challenge that we all have. I look forward to dealing with that here in Toronto. I believe I have a long way to go in both categories, so I am looking forward to those challenges that are ahead.

How are you going to celebrate?

Rielly: I don’t know. I kind of want to just forget about it and move past it.

Did it come together very quickly?

Rielly: I wasn’t really involved very much. You’d have to ask Kyle. From my understanding, the communication was good. I let my agent and him deal with it so I can just play hockey.

What needs to be done to get the team back on track after a mixed start to the season?

Rielly: I think as a group our D core needs to be better. There is no two ways about it. As a group of five, we can play better defensively, but that has to start with our D core. In order to do that, we have to get some confidence, play with lots of speed, and take time and space away from the other team’s top guys. I don’t think we have been doing a good enough job of that.

Like I said earlier, there are plenty of challenges ahead. We look forward to improving our D core and being a big part of our team’s [success] moving forward with a positive impact on the game every night.

How do you like playing with Travis Dermott?

Rielly: It is good. I have played with him before and in camp. He moves extremely well. He moves the puck with confidence. Hopefully, we can get something good going.

Can a bit of change help bring a fresh perspective and break some habits?

Rielly: I think so. That is kind of a natural thing to change it up and try some different looks. As players, you have to be able to do that. You expect things like that to happen over the course of a long season. When that time comes, you just have to deal with it and make the most of it.