At the Maple Leafs’ end-of-season media availability, Ryan O’Reilly discussed the disappointing end to the playoffs, his short time in Toronto, and his future plans looking ahead to unrestricted free agency.
What was your takeaway as you reflected on the series?
O’Reilly: It is obviously very disappointing to get the five games like that. It was nothing like what we wanted. We didn’t start the series the way we needed to or establish that physicality and playoff style. We kind of tip-toed into it. It came back to bite us.
In the second game, we throw everything at them and don’t get it to go in. We dug ourselves a hole, and it is tough to get out of.
No one in this locker room is happy. We knew we had more. For myself, I wish I played better at times. I don’t think I created enough out there. It is disappointing.
Why do you think the offense dried up in the playoffs?
O’Reilly: It is tough to say. You reflect on it. For myself, I didn’t create enough with the puck. At times, I was a little too timid at times when attacking.
As a group, those first couple of games weren’t hard enough on Bob there. It kind of gave him confidence and got him feeling it. When we look back and reflect on it, it would’ve been nice to establish a little bit of a tougher game for him early. I think it would’ve helped us in the series.
It is a lot what-ifs. It is just disappointing.
Matthew Tkachuk suggested their physical play may have worn your team down as the series progressed. Did you feel that at all?
O’Reilly: For sure, they were more physical than us. They kind of grabbed control of the series that way, which we need to do respond to a little better than we did with it. It was definitely a factor for them that help them beat us.
As you look ahead to free agency, the fans would definitely love you back here. Would you consider any offers to say?
O’Reilly: I am still reflecting on the loss. Going forward, I have lots to think about with what I plan to do.
This organization is incredible. You see the players that they have, but the people in the organization in the organization — every facet is looked after with the strength, the nutrition, and everything. The staff is the best at what they do. It is such an amazing place.
I am so thankful I was brought into it. I am sorry we didn’t get the result that we wanted. To be a part of this organization was an amazing thing. I have some decisions to make going forward, though.
What is your biggest priority in free agency?
O’Reilly: I am still reflecting on the season and such right now — and the last series — so I haven’t given it much thought. Once I turn the page here in a couple of weeks, that is when I will start getting that mindset.
For right now, I haven’t given it too much thought yet.
Physically, everybody has bumps and bruises in the postseason, but where were you at physically by the end of the playoffs?
O’Reilly: As with most guys, I was exhausted from the competitiveness. Body-wise, I was fine. The finger was great. There were no big injuries I was dealing with. Nothing bad.
With a fresh set of eyes coming into Toronto, what is your perspective on the core group here and what they could accomplish still?
O’Reilly: You can tell the core group here is really close. They’re very close with the pieces in here and the way that they lead. From an outsider coming into it, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I was just so impressed by it. It is a very tight group that works. They want to win.
It is extremely difficult to win in this league, especially with the pressure of the city and the people of it. It is not an easy thing by any means. But this group is very close. It will have success for sure.
Were you surprised by the level of pressure having seen it up close like this?
O’Reilly: I guess not really surprised by it, but you don’t really know it until you are in it to really see it. It is part of it. It is part of what makes this the mecca of hockey — the way people care. When they do win, it is going to be something that is that much more special.
Whatever happens, what did it mean to you to have this run in Toronto?
O’Reilly: It has been so amazing with the organization, my family, and growing up with the support the team has from everyone. I just can’t thank people enough or the organization enough for bringing me in to have a run like this and be a part of this group. It’s something I will always cherish.