After signing a six-year, $4.5 million AAV contract in Toronto, Chris Tanev discussed his decision to return to his hometown to compete for a Stanley Cup.

Can you talk about the Leafs being the local team you watched growing up? You are from here, and you know Brad Treliving. Did all of those factors play into the decision to come to Toronto?

Tanev: It is a team with elite talent and some of the best players in the world. They have had a ton of regular-season success. It has been impressive watching their top-end guys.

I am from here. I grew up in East York, so I am a Toronto kid. I am definitely excited to raise my family here.

I worked with Tre for three years in Calgary. He is a stand-up guy and really a good human. He wants to win just like I do. There are a lot of similarities there.

How did the last few days play out? Did you figure it was inevitable once the Leafs traded for your rights?

Tanev: It was a stressful last few days for me. Once I realized it wasn’t going to happen with Dallas and Toronto was able to trade for my rights, I wouldn’t say it was inevitable. I think my agent, Tre, and Brandon (Pridham) grinded over the last day. They figured out how we could make this work.

It is super exciting for me to come home and play for a team that has so much history and so much expectation. Obviously, winning in Toronto is everyone’s ultimate goal.

The way you sacrifice your body in shooting lanes is hard to do, and you are described as one of the best in the league at doing it. Where does that sacrificial drive come from? Have you always had it? Can you identify its roots?

Tanev: Always trying to win. I have had that in my life the whole time. I have two younger brothers. We grew up battling against each other. That is all we did. We came home from school and played some kind of sport — hockey, soccer, basketball, wrestling, or whatever it may be. We always wanted to win and kill each other. It sort of came from that.

Winning is the ultimate goal. That is what I try to do every game that I play.

What has stood out most about this Leafs team, having watched and competed against them over the years?

Tanev: I played against them a ton now over the last few years. As I said before, some of the best players in the world are on this team. You can go up and down the lineup. There is elite talent everywhere. Just being able to join this group and try to be a piece to the puzzle is extremely exciting for my family and I.

What is your most vivid memory growing up in the Toronto market regarding the Leafs?

Tanev: To be honest, growing up, I wasn’t a huge Leafs fan. I was a big Red Wings fan, but I was always paying attention, and I always loved hockey and how passionate everyone is here. Growing up, I was always tuned into Leafs fan rivalries. Those playoff series were incredible — stuff I will always remember for sure.

After such a strong, deep run in Dallas, why didn’t you sign there?

Tanev: Cap constraints is one reason. Family is another reason. I have my second child on the way in a couple of months. Being close to home and being around grandparents is important.

The main thing is that I think this team is really good. There are so many elite players here. It is not like I am leaving Dallas to a team that hasn’t been successful over the last number of years. There is a ton of elite talent here. There is a new coach coming in who is a Stanley Cup champion. He is going to bring a different aspect and game style, maybe, to how we want to play here. Super excited for all of that.

What do you think of the potential of partnering with a player like Morgan Rielly?

Tanev: I played with Mo at the Worlds a few years back. It was awesome playing with him. Great player and great person. I think we got along well. I talked to him over the last day and a half about his thoughts on playing with me and potentially being a partner. That can, potentially, be a good fit for sure.

He is one of those elite players and there are not many of them around in the game. If that is the way the coach and organization wants to go, I would be excited for that.

When a state such as Dallas has such a low income tax, is it something you consider when making this choice?

Tanev: That stuff comes into play, obviously. I can’t thank Dallas enough for how they helped me — ownership, Jim Nill, and the coaches were amazing. They welcomed me with open arms. I really appreciated that a lot.

There were a few things that didn’t work out. You do have the lower state tax there, but I played in Canada for 14 years. I am from here. My wife’s family is from close to here. There is also a tax when you leave Canada to become a U.S. citizen. There is a departure tax to leave Canada, so that plays a role in it. And there are family reasons.

Coming to a good team is a big part of it. I didn’t want to leave Dallas and go to a team that wasn’t trying to win. That was a huge reason why this happened.

How much were you able to talk to Craig Berube throughout this process? What kind of style might he bring to this group?

Tanev: After Toronto traded for my rights, he reached out probably an hour or two later and I got to know him a little bit. He is a Stanley Cup winner. He has high expectations of his players. That was very intriguing to me.

I think he wants to bring a philosophy and an approach to the game that is suited to winning hockey games. That is extremely important to me as well.

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