Steven Stamkos blames Auston Matthews for Leafs playoff failures

Graham Montgomery
May 2, 2024  (6:46 PM)

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos celebrating a goal
Photo credit: Sportsnet

Following the Lightning's elimination from the playoffs, Steven Stamkos has become the center of attention for the team. During his exit interview, he called out Auston Matthews and the rest of the Leafs stars for taking too much money to be able to win a Stanley Cup.

Stamkos' comments stemmed from a question about him accepting a smaller deal to re-sign with the Lightning. Notably, the Lightning captain will become an unrestricted free agent on July first if he does not reach an agreement with the team before then. His response was quiet interesting, emphasizing the importance of Tampa's star players taking discounted deals in order to win. He directly compared this to the Leafs strategy, which has been to give the star players and specifically Auston Matthews everything they want.
Stamkos on considering accepting a lower salary to stay here: "I think that has been a part of everyone's thought process in the core group of guys that we have had here in terms of what guys have taken over the years to stay here. I understand the tax advantage and that type of thing. Kuch is making $9.5. That is probably grossly underpaid in terms of what guys are getting now. Vasy. Pointer with 40 or 50 goals every year. You look at Matthews. What did he sign for? $13.5 or something? Heddy is making under $8 million. That is grossly underpaid if you look at what he has done. That is what everyone has done here and that is why we have had the success and that is the way it has been for this organization. I think that that in itself is a testament to management in how they want to build a team and, first and foremost, the players for wanting to do that and accept that and allow the management to go out there and build a roster to compete for the Stanley Cup. I think that's just always been the way it's been here"

No doubt the Leafs have invested more heavily into their core players than any other team has. Just between Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews alone, they have more than 20 million dollars in cap tied up. That doesn't even account for the extensions given to Matthews and Nylander this season.
Every active contract over $10m AAV that wasn't for 7+ years:

— Auston Matthews ($11.6m x 5 years)
— Mitch Marner ($10.9m x 6 years)

Somethings gotta give soon with Toronto's stars.

Starting next year, Matthews will be making 13.25 million dollars against the cap. William Nylander will also be making 11.5, a huge raise from his previous deal which had him at a cap hit just under 7 million dollars. Add on John Tavares and Mitch Marner and the Leafs have more than 45 million dollars tied up in four players next season.
Auston Matthews signs a $53M, 4 year contract per @frank_seravalli

We already estimate his career earnings at $53M. Once this contract has completed, his earnings will exceed $100M

Winning in the NHL is always hard, especially come playoff time. The Stanley Cup is arguably the hardest trophy to win in North American professional sports. With the Leafs core-four making so much money, it will only be that much harder for them. At this point it is already too late for the Stars to listen to Stamkos and take a home town discount. That may very well be the reason this version of the Leafs never wins a Stanley Cup.
Source: HouseofHockey
Steven Stamkos calls out Maple Leafs stars greed for lack of success
MAY 2   |   1207 ANSWERS
Steven Stamkos blames Auston Matthews for Leafs playoff failures

Do you think the Leafs star players accepting so much money is the reason the team hasn't had success in the playoffs?

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