Ryan O’Reilly wanted out of Toronto. Maple Leaf Play is not for everyone

Ryan O’Reilly wanted out of Toronto.
Maple Leaf Play is not for everyone


Ryan O’Reilly’s decision to accept a four-year contract offer from the Predators surprised those who expected him to stay with his hometown Lifters. × Are you a subscriber?
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It takes the right character to play for the Maple Leafs.
Even Morgan Rielly, the team’s longest-tenured player, was initially uncomfortable with the hype and profile that came with playing in Toronto.
“He’s a lot of fun,” said former Leafs general manager Brian Burke, who drafted the Vancouver native in 2012 and once told me Riely turned his life around to remain a Leaf player.
For the Toronto-born player, playing for his hometown team takes the hype and name recognition to another level.
That doesn’t seem to be a problem for players like Darryl Sitrr, Gary Roberts, Joe Nieuwendyk, Curtis Joseph, Mark Osborne or Shane Corson.
They were noted as local hockey heroes.
Some were born in the city, others were born a short distance away and became fan favorite heroes.
But it doesn’t always work that way.
There were two different periods when Larry Murphy and David Clarkson were supposed to be feel-good stories, but they lashed out at disillusioned fans.
Ryan O’Reilly’s recent stay with the Leafs was short and sweet, and his offseason decisions were loud and clear.

O’Reilly was brought in as a free agent at the NHL trade deadline last season to give Toronto depth and Stanley Cup pedigree.
Growing up in Huron County, Toronto’s beaches were his off-season home for many years.

O’Reilly and the Leafs appear to favor a long-term deal.
This made it a surprise that he decided to accept the Nashville Predators’ four-year contract offer. The business side of things for O’Reilly’s camp is that Nashville was the first to present a long-term contract offer, so they played it safe and didn’t expect Toronto to come up with anything similar.
But on a personal level, I could say a little more.

“It wasn’t the final decision. I think a lot of things come into play, but I think (the spotlight on Toronto) is also a factor,” O’Reilly said on “First Time.” Morning TSN 1050.
July performance. “(Toronto) is different.
It’s something I’ve always enjoyed, but I thought I’d be better off somewhere else.
But there are a lot of great things that come with it (playing in Toronto).

O’Reilly, 32, had every right to decide where he wanted to finish his free agent career ahead of his 15th NHL season, and all he had to do was put on the blue and white uniform for 22 matches.
That was enough.

I remember Rob Ramage stopping by our office in Maple Leaf Gardens on a hot July day in 1989.
I was the GM at the time and a month earlier I had traded a second round pick to the Calgary Flames for a veteran defenseman.
All transactions were done randomly. Cliff Fletcher and GM Flames attended the NHL Awards together. We came to an agreement just by talking to Alex Trebek while introducing him on stage.

But one of Ramage’s last words before leaving his Carlton Street office has stayed with me for years.
“I was in the NHL for 11 seasons.” the London, Ontario native said with a laugh.
“But my family will.
“I’ve been in the NHL since I joined the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

Over the years, I’ve seen many hockey fans ask me why I want to play in Toronto.
“Playing in Toronto was like playing in Boston,” said Dave Reid, an Etobicoke-born TSN hockey analyst who spent three seasons with the Lifters and 10 years with the Bruins during his 18-year career.
“The fans are very knowledgeable.
“They have certain expectations and they talk about them all the time.”

While Reed’s experience playing for the Leafs was about “95 percent” positive, it was the remaining five percent that bothered him the most: the pressure and scrutiny from fans and the media.
She had to learn to ignore him.
He will tell you that playing in Dallas and Colorado was very different from his hometown.

It looks like the current Leafs team has a chance to make some noise in this market.
Mitch Marner doesn’t seem as affected by the outside noise of the media and social media as he was a few years ago.
John Tavares took the bold step of returning to Toronto as a free agent and wears the “C” with pride.
Arizona has Auston Matthews, who grew up in a quiet hockey market but signed a four-year contract extension, sparking collective anger from legions of fans who were convinced he was headed for a new american market.
Pending free agent William Nylander also seems interested in staying.
The Leafs will have the pressure and expectations with them in Nashville, where O’Reilly will face them Saturday night as the first-line center for his new team.
Time will tell if a video tribute to O’Reilly awaits him before he returns to Toronto in December. 9, but you can certainly understand and respect that being a Leaf isn’t his thing, and you can understand that he suffered a serious injury last spring when the Leafs advanced to the second round for the first time in 20 years.

Most importantly, the core seems to have now come to terms with the negative aspects of this work.
Instead, they focused on the tax benefits that come with playing at a lower level in the US hockey market.

The playoff failures of this Leafs group are often in the spotlight, but if they can find a way to win it all, they will be rewarded for their loyalty to the Toronto hockey market.


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