Toronto Maple Leafs Culture Has Officially Altered Significantly.

Naftali Clinton
September 19, 2023  (7:25 PM)

Toronto Maple Leafs Culture has Changed With Recent Additions

In a recent podcast from The Leafs Nation, they talked about how the Maple Leafs' culture has shifted since the end of the 2022-23 season.
Reaves, be there if you can. Surround yourself with people who share the same mindset. When you're resting your big boys and you step out for a shift or two, you'd better be out there giving it your all. You'd better get deep, crash and bang, get in their faces, and remind everyone that you're not absent today. This isn't what we're doing here, not with this team, as it used to be. Then, you get off, let your big boys get back on, and that's your purpose. I think that's more valuable, even though some people don't like it, than having a bunch of guys who are supposed to be top-six players playing bottom-six minutes and being completely useless. Yeah, I totally get what you're saying, and color me absolutely shocked that Jay Rose Hill likes the Ryan Reaves Edition. I mean, who could have seen that coming? I'm not saying he's going to be a world-changer, but honestly, when you look at this team and the issues they've had in the postseason, I'm not saying Ryan Reaves is going to be a game-changer, but I do think there's something to be said for the culture aspect.

The Reaves signing was certainly a surprise to many but in hindsight it made perfect sense. The only concern is the amount of term for the veteran.
If you talk to Bill Guerin, running the Minnesota Wild, he'll tell you how Ryan Reaves changed their season when they brought him in. It was Thanksgiving one year, and he's an infectious personality. You can see it in any interview he does. But sending a message, right from the Leafs golf outing, that we're not going to allow stuff like Radko Gudas yelling at our netminder, that's not going to happen anymore. Those days are over, and I think setting that tone, sometimes you can't quantify it, it won't show up on a scoresheet, most times it won't show up in the standings, but it's one of those things that ultimately helps your team win.

The Leafs are certainly trying to project an image of a team that will not be pushed around, after acquiring Tyler Bertuzzi, Max Domi, and of course, NHL heavyweight Ryan Reaves.
When Brad Treliving takes over and talks to different people throughout the organization, including some players, it's clear to me that they needed some kind of shot in the arm, and that's what Ryan Reaves brings. Like it, hate it, love it, he's a big guy that is intimidating, and that is also someone who's really well-liked by his teammates. That's a very palpable thing when you're playing on a team. When you're going into a series or a game with a team that has nobody, is weak, and has no pushback, it's very noticeable, and you carry yourself differently. As a guy who would go up against anybody, I'm going to watch myself a little bit more and how I conduct my actions on the ice with their star players, with their goaltenders, based on, 'Do I feel like getting this guy in my ear right now, screaming at me from the bench?' And that goes through the whole team. When you go into a series with the team like the Toronto Maples have been in the past, it's easy to be cocky and swagger, shove this guy, grab Marner, shove Matthews, face wash this guy, scream in the goalie's face.

Reaves was brought in to strike fear into opponents and he will be useful come playoff time. Every team in the league needs a guy like that.
You can do it because there's nothing, whether Reaves or not, it's just a culture thing. When that guy's established and says, 'Hey, not with this team,' guys are going to realize when you come to Toronto when they're in town, that stuff's a little bit off, unless you're willing to step up and deal with the consequences. Yeah, and I think when you look, the Leafs had to make compromises here. They weren't able to keep all the pieces they wanted to. They tried to make a push to re-sign Ryan O'Reilly, that's the seam, it's a different kind because he also impacts on the ice, but in terms of culture, identity, toughness, team toughness, things like that, Luke Shannon is another guy they brought in. Kyle Dubas, the previous regime knew that this group, this team, needed some of that and recognized it. Last year, at the trade deadline, they weren't able to keep some of those guys. So they had to go find a way to backfill it. Is anyone excited about a three-year contract for Ryan Reaves at age 36, a guy that is already probably slowing down and has slowed down in a significant way? No, they're not. But sometimes that's the cost of doing business.

The Maple Leafs Are Doing Everything They Can to Finally Make a Run for the Stanley Cup.

Included in that is inking veteran fighter Reaves to a three-year, $4.05 million contract. That is probably an overpayment but it's what they need to do.
Someone out there, I believe, was offering more on a two-year deal that the Leafs had to then adjust and say, 'Okay, we'll match it or beat it, but we have to extend it into a third year to make the cap hit acceptable for us and our cap structure.' That's essentially what they backed themselves into. But the key is that they recognize the need. It's funny because, like the rollover, so we're going to see in the media this year how you're going to, and pardon the phrase from wrestling, but the heels are going to become faces, the faces are going to become heels. You had so many Duba-sites, and now you have people backing Brad Treliving. Along those lines, they bring in Max Domi, they bring in Tyler Bertuzzi.

Treliving is trying to create a culture of toughness and winning in Toronto and he started that by bringing in these guys.
Sometimes in Toronto, we have no idea what to talk about, so we talk about long-term contracts maybe coming up for both these guys. Do you think it's likely that one or both of these guys are sticking around past this season, or is it way too early to tell at this point? Can we get their skates actually hit the ice? No, I mean, why? I mean, why? Is it possible? Yes. Is it likely? I'm not sure. I think there was certainly a hope, certainly from the Domi camp, that they could get something done longer-term, that didn't materialize. I think from the Bertuzzi, you know, experience, so to speak, by the way, both those guys are also going to add a little bit of that element that we were just talking about, and I say this totally reverently and respectfully, Tyler Bertuzzi is a rat, and exactly the type of rat you want on your team. He's awesome. That guy has no fear. When he went to Boston, I called him Brad Marchand lite, and that's sort of how I view him.

Bertuzzi fits the mold of what kind of team Treliving is trying to build but this big questions is whether he'll be able to stay healthy over an 82-game season plus the playoffs.
He's not quite as talented as Marchand, but the next sort of tear down, a really good player in this league that also has an edge to him and doesn't back down. I think that's important. And Max Domi has, of course, that same kind of spunk. Not quite like his dad, but certainly isn't afraid. And I think that's important. I also think, why get hung up on the term? That's if you're looking at the beauty of this Leafs season, just take a look at CapFriendly and look at those red boxes, see the guys that are pending UFAs. People get wrapped up in the term aspect, and I made this point about Auston Matthews when he signed his extension. Sometimes, term is your enemy, and you'd like to make changes to your team that you can't because you're locked in and you can't do anything. If the Leafs don't find the success they need to this season in the postseason, you want to be able to blow it up a bit.

As heard on The Leafs Nation Podcast. Leafs Nation Podcast.
Toronto Maple Leafs Culture Has Officially Altered Significantly.

Will Ryan Reaves play out his contract in Toronto?

Yes58170.3 %
No24529.7 %
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