" >Why the best is yet to come for Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander - Sportsnet.ca | Canada News Media
Connect with us

Sports

Why the best is yet to come for Canada’s Shai Gilgeous-Alexander – Sportsnet.ca

Published

on


TORONTO — Shai Gilgeous-Alexander might have as a bright an NBA future as any Canadian in the game right now.

He might have as bright an NBA future as any young guard in the game, flag notwithstanding.

He certainly isn’t short of confidence.

It stems from both his willingness to work and his natural gifts — six-foot-six point guards with nearly seven-foot wingspans are a rare and valued commodity in the NBA. Throw in an innate sense of timing that just 10 days ago Hall-of-Fame bound Dwyane Wade felt compelled to comment on via Twitter after the kid from Hamilton by way of Kentucky tied his career high of 32 points against the team that drafted him — the Los Angeles Clippers — and you have a package nearly unmatched.

“Shai came into the league with the pace of a veteran. This kid is special.”

But he’s not too full of himself. For that he has friends and family, especially his mom — a former Olympic sprinter — to thank.

“I work hard, so I have confidence,” he said before playing just his second game at Scotiabank Arena and his first since he landed in Oklahoma City as the key return piece in an off-season trade that saw Paul George head to the Clippers. “And the people around me don’t let my head get too big.

“Especially my mom, she tells me I suck every day.”

But what is Mom going to say now?

Her son came to Toronto for a late Christmas with the Thunder and put up one of — if not the best — games a Canadian has ever had against the Raptors.

Is 32 points, seven rebounds and the game-winning basket in the Thunder’s 98-97 win and a spot in the record books good enough for Mama?

It should be.

No Canadian has even scored more in an NBA game on Canadian soil or against the Raptors anywhere as Gilgeous-Alexander did Sunday. Previously Rick Fox had dropped 31 in a game in Toronto way back in 1998 when he was with the Los Angeles Lakers while Andrew Wiggins put up 31 against the Raptors in 2016 in Minnesota.

Even the level-headed guard was impressed when he learned he’d not only earned a win to improve the Thunders’ record to 17-15 but a place in Canadian basketball lore.

“I did not know that, that’s cool though,” he said.

When his running mate and mentor, Thunder veteran Chris Paul heard about the significance of his teammate’s big night on the floor he grew up watching the Raptors play on, he predicted Gilgeous-Alexander would be a little less reserved in private.

“Man we aren’t going to hear the end of that,” said Paul. “He was probably modest right here … but we aren’t going to hear the end of that.”

That he showed out was no surprise. Gilgeous-Alexander arrived in Toronto on a heater, averaging 26.4 points over his last five games on 53 per cent shooting with the Thunder winning four of those to remain firmly in the Western Conference playoff picture when trading George was supposed to trigger a rebuild.

And then there was the playing at home factor.

“He’s been excited to come back,” said Paul. “Everybody here in Canada know that you got a real one. He loves home. He loves home.”

Gilgeous-Alexander was one of a record four Canadians to score in the game, another first. Chris Boucher and Oshae Brissett chipped in nine and four points for the Raptors, respectively, while Montreal rookie Luguentz Dort had three points for the Thunder.

For the season Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 19.4 points a game, a massive leap from the 10.8 points a game he put up in his rookie season as the No. 11 pick in the 2018 draft with no decline in efficiency even if his minutes (35.2 from 26.2) and usage (24.9 from 18.3) have jumped considerably.

The best, most feel, is yet to come. It’s games like he had Sunday night that suggest why.

“He’s playing very well. I’m not sure who has a quicker first step, blow-by move in the league right now than this guy,” said Raptors head coach Nick Nurse, who will have an opportunity to coach Gilgeous-Alexander this summer with the Canadian men’s national team. “When he is [playing one-on-one] and he makes his little head-and-shoulder (move), boom, he’s by ya.”

“And then he’s got the uncanny ability to kind of slow that down at the end,” added Nurse. “It’s ultra-quick by his man and then he surveys around who is left at the basket that he’s got to side step or whatever. Or he makes such a fast move that he’s to the front of the rim right away.”

“That’s been most impressive to me, and it mostly just happens in one-on-one situations,” Nurse continued. “That is what has stuck out to me the most. He’s really athletic. He’s athletic at the start. He’s athletic at the finish. People will come and he’ll hang in the air and he’ll move the ball around and then he’s shooting it really well on top of it. He’ll keep you honest so you can’t just say ‘let’s bait him into some threes or whatever,’ because he’s stroking it pretty good too. He’s been awesome, really awesome, and late in games, crunch time, overtime, all kinds of stuff. He’s been really, really good [and] there’s a lot of upside.”

Gilgeous-Alexander wasted little time putting his skills on display in front of what seemed like almost a full section of friends and family out to watch him play a rare game in his hometown.

It’s the third time he’s scored a career-high 32 points, all coming this season, but this one was a little more special.

“This one might be the best one so far, for sure,” he said. “Back at the crib.”

“… But all of it, honestly, wouldn’t have meant anything if we didn’t win, that was the best feeling, knowing that we came out of here with a win.”

He had a lot to do with it.

He scored on his first touch, loping through the paint for a lay-up, setting a tone. But the end of the first quarter he’d added a couple more hoops on his trademark, slippery, never hurried drives that he can finish with either hand off either foot. It makes him looks comfortable going over, under or around anyone to get the rim.

“I just stay in his ear all the time about being aggressive and staying aggressive,” said Paul. “He’s got it all. The mid-range, the finishes, the shooting.”

But Gilgeous-Alexander was just warming up. He sent the Thunder into halftime tied with the Raptors 47-47 after exploding for 14 second-quarter points including an eight-point flurry in the final two minutes of the half that featured a pair of deep threes.

By then he’d fulfilled his pregame mission:

“Playing in front of friends and family, and on the court you grew up watching is special every time,” he said. “Hopefully I play good.”

Hey, 12-of-21 shooting with three triples in five tries is good.

His only stumble came on a few possessions in the late third quarter and early fourth quarter when the 21-year-old appeared to be forcing his way into the paint a little too much, allowing the Raptors to collapse on him. He missed four straight shots but put the Thunder up one, 94-93, with a floater in the lane with 4:08 to play.

Fortunately, the Thunder have Paul, a 16-year-veteran headed to the hall-of-fame to help carry the load in tight moments. And after another Gilgeous-Alexander miss, Paul scored a controversial jumper after what seemed to be a held ball with under a minute left to put OKC up one.

A pair of VanVleet free throws with 54 seconds left gave the Raptors the lead but only until Gilgeous-Alexander closed out the scoring set the scoring mark at the same time.

“It felt amazing [to get a lift from Paul],” he said. “I felt myself slowing down, getting a little tired, and Chris being the kind of player that he is picked us back up as soon as we needed it. He’s the main reason we got the W tonight.”

It was a Paul play that set up what turned out to be both the game-winning basket and Gilgeous-Alexander’s new Canadian scoring mark as his floater through the lane and off glass put OKC up 98-97 with 36 seconds to play and the Raptors couldn’t reverse it.

Paul finished with 25 points, 11 rebounds and eight assists, as the Thunder guards out-played their Raptors counterparts, Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry, who each finished with 20 points.

As well as he played, the excitement around Gilgeous-Alexander has more to do with what he might end up achieving rather than where he is at the moment, which is saying something. He’s already earning favourable comparisons with the likes of fellow Canadians Jamal Murray and Andrew Wiggins and could emerge as the best player with a Maple Leaf passport in the league as a starting point. Given his talent and demeanour, there is no obvious end point.

“I plan on making a leap like this every year,” he said. “And then hopefully all the accolades follow after that … I focus on getting better, and everything, accolades, all the awards take care of themselves.”

That was what Thunder coach Billy Donovan said was most impressive about him in their half-season working together.

“I think one of his greatest qualities apart from his basketball skillset is his humility,” said Donovan. “I don’t mean to say he’s timid or afraid, but he’s got great humility in terms of being coached and wanting to get better.

“I think all great players, to me, always look inside first and he’s a guy who really does that, looking for ways to get better and improve.”

His big future is closer than it might appear in the mirror.

So good enough to please Mom, at least for now?

“Just a little bit,” Gilgeous-Alexander smiled. “She’ll be satisfied this time.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Trade grades: Oilers acquire 2020 version of Mike Green – ESPN

Published

on


To help make this website better, to improve and personalize your experience and for advertising purposes, are you happy to accept cookies and other technologies?

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Edmonton Oilers trade for Detroit Andreas Athanasiou

Published

on

This in from Gord Miller of TSN, that the Edmonton Oilers have traded for Andreas Athanasiou and Ryan Kuffner from Detroit. The Oilers gave up Sam Gagner and two second round picks to get Athanasiou, who will be a Restricted Free Agent this summer.

[embedded content]

My take

  1. It looks like Oilers GM Ken Holland wants his team to take a run at the Stanley Cup. Can you blame him? Not me.
  2. Athanasiou, 25, is a major pick up for the Oilers. He’s having an off year but he scored 30 goals in 2018-19.
  3. When it comes to even strength scoring, Athanasiou ranks 238th out of 393 regular NHL forwards this year, with 1.57 points per game.
  4. Sam Gagner ranks 284th for even strength scoring with 1.38 points per game. But Gagner lacks the wheels to play with Connor McDavid. Athanasiou has got them. Gagner was moved for cap reasons, so Edmonton can fit Athanasiou under their cap.
  5. Kuffner, 23, is a struggling AHL player.
  6. Athanasiou kills penalties and plays on the power play in Detroit. This year he’s at 1:37 per game on the PK and 2:21 per game on the PP. But his big number is that -45 NHL plus-minuus in 46 games. That’s a wretched number but it’s a number earned by the entire Detroit Red Wings team when Athanasiou is on the ice, it’s not an individual stat. We’ll see how well Athansiou plays defence when he gets here, though there are doubts about him in this regard.
  7. Athanasiou has been on the ice for 21 even strength goals for this year and 60 against.
  8. Brian Burke of Sportnset said: “All I can tell you about Athanasiou is: he makes both teams dangerous. This is a guy who has speed for sure, but he is not a fanatic about defence. I can tell you that. This one, I’ll give Kenny the benefit of the doubt. They definitely got faster but this guy is not a defender.”
  9. Former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau of Sportsnet said Athanasiou would help push NHL defenders back with his speed. “I think it’s going to work out. If Connor is skating full speed and this guy can keep up to him, how do you check them”?
  10. Louie DeBrusk of Sportsnet said: “This is going to be the first time that Connor McDavid has a running mate that can actually keep up to him and be right there with him and be right on the door step waiting for those back door tap ins.”
  11. Scottie Upshall on TSN said, “I like the move. They need speed. He’s one of the fastest players in the league. And Connor needs that. He needs a guy who is going to step up and keep the pace of play and be able to move the puck, be able to create some space.”
  12. TSN’s Ray Ferraro said: “Certainly Ken Holland knows him from Detroit. He’s seen the ups and downs of AA as he’s gone from Grande Rapids to a part time pro in Detroit to a full time guy. Seen him score 30 goals. He’s there to watch him -42 this year. So I think there be a pretty direct line of communication of what’s expected from Athanasiou. He can skate. He can score. McDavid is on a line right now with Alex Chiasson and Sam Gagner. That doesn’t fit. They need more there. And I think the Oilers… they’ve got a player that can play with McDavid. Will it be successful. We’ll see…. It feels like this is the type of player who has had such a crappy year that can hit lightning here playing with a guy like McDavid.” Ferraro said he’s intrigued by this for Edmonton. “I think that what concerns me is that he likes the puck. Athanasiou likes the puck. He likes to rush it. He likes to carry it. The guy he’s going to be playing with should be carrying the puck all the time.”
  13. TSN’s Craig Button wondered if Athanasiou would get to the right places at the right time on the ice. “He plays with blinders on… He’s like a drag racer. He’s not a formula one racer. He’s just straight ahead. And if you’re going to play with Connor McDavid, you better be thinking, ‘Where’s Connor so I can get him the puck?’ I don’t think Athanasiou will be a good fit for Connor McDavid. I don’t.” Buttons suggested playing Athanasiou with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and putting Drasaistl back with McDavid.
  14. TSN’s Jeff O’Neill said: “It’s going to be nice to see him in a competitive situation too. There’s not a lot of fun going on in Detroit right now and I don’t think there’s going to be a lot of fun. That would be a player who would just be drowning in that year after year.”
  15. TSN’s Mike Johnson said: “Even if it doesn’t fit perfectly, if they’re not a perfect blend, Connor McDavid is talented enough, if you have any kind of offensive instincts, or even enough to know just get out of the way, go to the net and let him do his thing, you’ll pick up points, you’ll pick up goals, you’ll feel better about yourself. There is an element of truth that if you just keep it simple even it’s not exactly your style of game, if you just keep it simple and go to to the net and get out of the way, Connor McDavid is great enough for you to have a little bit of success just like that.”
  16. I like this deal. Edmonton has a great chance to both win the Pacific division and to make the Stanley Cup semi-finals. Second round picks are valuable, but they have about a one in five chance of turning into a good NHLer.
  17. Athanasiou makes $3.0 million this year. He’s a restricted free agent this summer, so Edmonton will have to make a call on him then. For now, we’ll see how he does this spring in Edmonton.

In case you’re wondering about the value of draft picks, Brad McPherson has dug into this a this website, the Blue Bullet Report:

Essentially, he’s found that a forward taken in the various rounds has the following average career value:

  • 1st overall: 102 value
  • 10th overall: 26.2
  • 20th: 13.2
  • 30th: 8.9
  • 40th: 4.8
  • 50th: 4.2
  • 60th: 3.6
  • 70th: 3.4
  • 80th: 2.2
  • 90th: 1.8
  • 100th: 1.5
  • 110th: 0.9
  • 120th: 0.9
  • 130th: 0.8
  • 140th: 0.8
  • 150th: 0.8
  • 160th: 0.8
  • 170th: 0.6
  • 180th: 0.6
  • 190th: 0.5
  • 200th: 0.5
  • 210th: 0.5

The first overall pick has an average career value four times greater than the 10th overall pick and more than 10 times greater than the average 30th overall pick, and more than 20 times greater than the average second round pick.

Sometimes lower round picks turn into fine players, like Ethan Bear and Caleb Jones. Most often, they do not.

Major recent trades:

  • Edmonton gets Athanasiou for two second round picks and Sam Gagner.
  • Pittsburgh gets Patrick Marleau for a third round pick.
  • Carolina Hurricanes get Vincent Trochek for forwards Erik Haula and Lucas Wallmark and two prospects (Chase Priskie and Eetu Luostarinen).
  • Washington Capitals acquire Ilya Kovalchuk for a third round draft pick.
  • New York Islanders get Jean-Gabriel Pageau for first round draft pick in 2020 (lottery protected), 2nd in 2020 and 3rd round pick in 2022 if Islanders win the Cup.
  • Colorado gets Vlad Namestnikov for a fourth round pick in 2021.
  • Boston Bruins get Ondrej Kase, traded for a 2020 first-round pick along with David Backes and defensive prospect Axel Andersson, Bruins retaining 25 per cent of Backes’ contract.
  • Vegas Golden Knights get Alec Martinez, D – Traded for ’20 2nd-rd pick, ’21 2nd-rd pick
  • St. Louis Blues get Marco Scandella, D – Traded for ’20 2nd-rd pick, ’21 cond. pick
  • Washington Capitals get Brenden Dillon, D – Traded for ’20 2nd-rd pick, ’21 cond. pick
  • Winnipeg Jets get Dylan DeMelo, D – Traded for ’20 3rd-rd pick
  • Vancouver Canucks get Tyler Toffoli, RW – Traded for Tim Schaller, Madden, picks
  • Tampa Bay Lightning get Blake Coleman, LW – Traded for Nolan Foote, ’20 1st-rd pick
  • New Jersey Devils get David Quenneville, D – Traded w/ ’21 2nd-rd pick for Andy Greene
  • Pittsburgh Penguins get Jason Zucker, LW – Traded for Alex Galchenyuk, Addison, ’20 1st-rd pick
  • Los Angeles Kings get Trevor Moore, LW – Traded w/ picks for Jack Campbell, Kyle Clifford
  • Buffalo Sabres Michael Frolik for 4th -round pick (2020)
  • Montreal Canadiens Marco Scandella for 4th-round pick (2020)
  • Arizona Coyotes Taylor Hall and Blake Speers for 2020 conditional first-round draft pick, 2021 conditional third-round draft pick, Nate Schnarr, Nick Merkley Kevin Bahl

Source link

Continue Reading

Sports

Transcript – Kyle Dubas speaks in post-deadline press conference – Pension Plan Puppets

Published

on


On Monday afternoon, once the trade deadline had passed and it was clear the Toronto Maple Leafs were not making any more moves of consequence, Kyle Dubas held a brief press conference. He answered questions from the media relating to the deadline, their (in)activity, and the state of the team following an extremely tough week full of embarrassing losses.

You can find the full video here, but it was interesting enough for me to write out a transcript of the full Q and A. I think Dubas does his usual press release, corporate-cleansed non-answers like normal… but only to some extent. When you hear and read his answers outside of those, I’d say it’s pretty clear that the organization is not pleased with the level of play from his players and want them to dig themselves out of it rather than throwing them any rope.

He also confirmed that it’s more likely we’ll see a trade of significance in the off-season when it’s much easier to, and I gather their cap situation made swinging anything big right now overly complicated anyways.

Here’s the full transcript:

MEDIA QUESTION

Did you end up having a quiet day, today?

DUBAS ANSWER

I just think that things change as the season progresses, and the way they operate on the deadline I think is a byproduct of a number of things: cap space being one function, the performance of the team being another, and then how different player injuries and their return to the lineup will impact the cap space in the remainder of the year and how we have to manage that.

I think the confluence of all three of those things led to just some depth moves, and I think more than that we kind of took our shot earlier in the month with the Jack Campbell and Kyle Clifford transaction. Unfortunately for everybody here, isn’t as exciting as you’d like. Sorry about that.

MEDIA QUESTION

How much did the past week with pretty disheartening losses to Buffalo, Pittsburgh and then Saturday to Carolina play into the decision to be quieter today?

DUBAS ANSWER

I think it goes back beyond that, Dave. Just call it what it is, I think there’s no reason to dance around it, in here. Everyone watches the team and is around the team every day. We’re in the lower part of the league when we made the coaching change. Then we had a great run in the beginning of January, since then we’ve been uneven.

It’s easy to look at the recent past to look at Saturday, in Pittsburgh and in Buffalo, and then make things look a bit brighter by looking back against Pittsburgh here. But I think the reality is you take it all, in its totality rather than react to one or two games. I think we show enough in our run since Sheldon that gives a great sense of optimism, then we also have some games where we rightfully, I think, draw the doubts of a lot of people.

I think the best way to put it, to use a Jekyll and Hyde type of way to describe it, I think it’s up to our entire program – starting with me and on to Sheldon and the players – to find our way out of it, to be the best version of ourselves that we can every single day for our organization, for the fanbase, to get where we want to go.

MEDIA QUESTION

Why do you think that they don’t deliver the best versions of themselves on a more consistent basis?

DUBAS ANSWER

That’s a good question, the truthful answer is we don’t know. If we knew, we’d go about it — and that might draw some criticism to say I don’t know. But I’m not going to come up and bullshit and tell you I have some magical solution. We have to go through this, we have to find a way to be our best on a daily basis.

It’s interesting, you can go back and look at different teams in different sports, there are very few that right from the minute they acquire their talent through the draft, just suddenly reach their potential and win championships and play at a consistent level every day. We’re clearly not there yet, but we also show signs of what we can be when we get there. It’s not really what people want to hear, but it’s the truth. It’s that we have to keep at this every day, we can’t waver when things don’t go well, we have to keep marching towards the way we want to go.

We know what everyone says and sees on the ice, it’s the problems that we face. We have to be more consistent with our focus, with our mindset, with our effort every single night to get where we want to go. I know we have the character and the leaders on the team, some of those guys are still younger and they’re finding their way as leaders within the group as well. We have to help them get there, and in time we will. It might just not be as quick or as easy as everyone wants, but this is not the type of business that is quick and easy for a lot.

MEDIA QUESTION

Did you have anything with Tyson on the front burner?

DUBAS ANSWER

There was nothing on the front burner. I talked to Tyson Barrie this afternoon, following practice to update him. I’ve been in touch with his representation on Thursday at our game against Pittsburgh. I think the reality is because of the way things had gone, we started to get some interest in him. Because of how things had gone I felt it was good practice to listen and start to envision what the return would look like from our end.

But because we were in the position that we’re in, where we’ve acquired him and he’s played very well especially since the coaching chance, we were totally fine with him running it out and continuing to grow as part of our group.

I know it was stressful couple of days for him, which is not something we want to put anyone through. I talked to him about a half an hour before the deadline, he was on the way to the airport, and we had a good discussion about where things are at and where we want to go, and we are excited to have him as part of it. But we were under no rush, or because of where we’re at, any real impetus to have to do something with him.

MEDIA QUESTION

Do you see him as part of this team beyond July 1?

DUBAS ANSWER

That’s a question I don’t have the answer to right now, other than to say that we’ll use the remaining time we have together to see if there’s a fit. As you know with our cap situation it’s never so simple, I wish it were but it’s not. So we’ll see where it’s at and where he’s at. He’s a great member of our program off the ice and adds a lot to our room, as our players communicated to everyone in here over the last number of days. We really value that, what he brings on the ice and off.

As Sheldon talked to earlier today, the way he conducted himself Saturday night when he was injured in the game and then came back in the game speaks a lot about what he’s all about and how he values being here as well as we value having him.

MEDIA QUESTION

How would you describe the market for defensemen with term on their deals the last few days? Was there one? [Dubas clarified that the question referred to acquiring such a defenseman, not trading one of the Leafs’ own players]

DUBAS ANSWER

Yeah I think we’re in an interesting situation, because as you saw today with Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci back skating it looks like they’re going back well before the end of the year. How soon, we don’t know yet and they’re still a ways a way. That complicates the amount you can bring in without a big amount of dollars going out.

We didn’t feel compelled to act on any of the things out there, and frankly I think they are more things that are closer to the draft. We need to see how our own guys develop. In a perfect world your own guys develop and quell your concerns you have about the roster and that people on the outside may have about them as well. We’ll continue to be on the hunt for that and on the lookout from there.

MEDIA QUESTION

For Calle Rosen, how important was it for you to know what you were getting in the player to make that deal?

DUBAS ANSWER

It’s a big help, we didn’t really want to give him up in the first deal but we did. Once Hutch cleared waivers a few weeks ago we started to have some discussions with them then it quieted a little bit. We also wanted to do right by Michael and get him into a good situation, it’s not been an easy one for him here. He’s a high quality person and family that he’s got with him.

When they were willing to put Rosen into the deal for our depth purposes, and in knowing him and what he can bring and how far he came with us in the previous two seasons before he was part of the deal with Nazem Kadri, Alexander Kerfoot and Tyson Barrie, we were excited to bring him back. It just eases any transition back, he knows our people and he hasn’t been gone for very long.

MEDIA QUESTION

What about Jake Muzzin, is he someone that you wanted to keep around and how did you arrive at a four year term?

DUBAS ANSWER

We obviously wanted to keep him around, otherwise there would be no question. Yes we wanted to keep him around, and the term is a byproduct of where he’s at. He just turned 31 years old, Brandon Pridham and Joe Resnick worked on it mostly and did a great job on it, and Joe’s a very staunch advocate for his client but also something who is very realistic and great to deal with. Brandon and [Joe] did a lot of the work over the last number of months to find something that Jake was comfortable with, and we were comfortable with, and it ends up being a deal that will be very fair to both.

Jake’s importance here, because a lot of people have seen especially have things haven’t gone well, is immense on and off the ice. It was very apparent when he was out of the lineup that we missed him deeply, and that just at the time that we started to really come out of the stretch we were playing well. He got hurt in New Jersey, I think it was one of the key points to us starting to get out of the form we were in. We’re thrilled to have him for what he brings on and off the ice.

MEDIA QUESTION

I imagine it’s frustrating at times watching some of the games, how have you managed your emotions in this stretch?

DUBAS ANSWER

[Laughs]. Yes, every single description you could come up with probably describes it. That’s also one of the great things about the business that we’ve chosen. The realism and the fact that it isn’t going to be easy and it isn’t going to be over night. Where we’ve put ourselves into a position that I don’t think we want to be in, which is battling for our lives.

But I’ve said this before and I’ll continue to say it, because it is true regardless of how it all plays out this season and moving forward and how it impacts me and the team and everything like that: our group that we have here has to go through this. We have to develop the ability to weather the storm when it comes and to thrive going through it. That’s the only way we’re going to be at our best.

I think you can look at the team, and I think a lot of people are right when they look at the team Saturday or in Pittsburgh or in Buffalo and think, what’s the matter with them? They just don’t have it. And on those nights they’re right, but then on Thursday night, or when we go into St. Louis or when St. Louis comes here, we also show what we can be. It isn’t a zero sum thing where we’re no good or we’re great. It’s in the middle and we’re trying to get to that point where we’re great every night.

The only way that I know we’re going to get there, is we’re going to have to go through and come out of it with great lessons learned and with our players and our staff and everybody around our program knowing that this is what we have to go through as a group to reach our full potential. I fully believe that.

You can look at countless teams in every sport, and businesses that have gone through the same thing and it’s necessary. As much as I know people don’t want to hear that, and will roll their eyes at that, it’s just the truth. I think it’s exciting for us to find out where we’re at, and it’s exciting to see the response of our guys. Not just tomorrow night, but the rest of the way to April 4th and how we come out.

MEDIA QUESTION

How difficult it is for you to stay patient through this process to reach that?

DUBAS ANSWER

[Laughs]. I have my moments where impatience goes to the top of the list, but I don’t think the consequence of every bit of fortune or the consequence of misfortune is as stark as it seems in the moment that it happens.

I think Saturday night was an embarrassing night not because our team lost a game and the goaltender of record for the other team was the zamboni driver from Mattamy Event Center who happens to be a wonderful guy. It was embarrassing because of the way we played that put us into the position where we were down to them 4-1 when we actually started generating shots on him.

At those moments, impatience and frustrations boils – there’s no BS about that. But in the end, we’ve set ourselves up on a journey that it’s going to be difficult, and it’s going to be hard, and we’re going to have moments like that where we question what we’re doing, and we question each other, and we question ourselves.

But you get up every day and you can switch your plan every single morning but you’ll get through this having changed your plan 100 times and look back and say you’ll think jeez we should have just stayed on the course were at and we would have served us so much better in the end.

That’s what we’re committed to, we’re committed to working our way through the adversity and coming out on the other side. As long as we stick with it and keep marching on no matter what’s ahead of us we’ll get there.

MEDIA QUESTION

Kyle I wanted to ask if I can about David Ayres, if you’re aware of the huge media spectacle. Is that just a huge confidence crush for the guys? Or what was the response for it? Was it a turning point?

DUBAS ANSWER

I don’t know the answer. I know that everyone here has to be in the very binary, zero sum game of making the next day this is what happened and this is how it’s going to impact things.

I don’t know how it’s going to impact us, I think it was an embarrassing night not because of David Ayres – everyone here loves David Ayres, he’s great. It’s a wonderful story and he’s a wonderful person. He shows up every day, and as Sheldon said he faces hundreds of shots a day from our guys, so he just comes out and he’s great. If we won the game, it would be embarrassing as well. Because you were down 4-1 and then it would be a whole other controversy that would come up, it’s the Maple Leafs and it’s their own employee. I think everyone here can imagine what that would have been like as well.

So we were in a no-win situation in that game, and we were in a no-win situation because we put ourselves there. We did it three of the four games last week. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be. My hope, and what we’re working towards is that we’re going to use not just that game but the three of the four games last week and see how embarrassing it is.

And also the game we played great, and work towards being great three out of four teams instead of being poor three out of four times. Because we have to get there eventually, so that’s what we’re working towards and that’s what we hope the outcome would be. But to sit today and say that I know I can project my optimistic or my pessimistic version, but we don’t know.

It’s going to be on the players to respond in the absolute best way, and it’s going to be on myself and Sheldon and our staff to lead them in the right direction. And in the end if we don’t get there it’s on me, as it always is when things don’t go well.

MEDIA QUESTION

Was there disappointment, Kyle, when you talk about the adversity the team is going through when you happen to be fighting for your playoff life. Many of us in this room and yourself included probably didn’t expect this sort of thing back in the summer before the season started. So we’ve heard from the players that have been here, that young core that have been through the Bruins losses, this will give us resolve and this will make us stronger. We haven’t seen that. Disappointment would be my word, but how would you determine where the group is considering what the expectations were before the start of the season?

DUBAS ANSWER

I think the group is in a challenging spot, but with that comes the opportunity to do something special and something great, which is… let’s speak bluntly about it, there’s a lot of people that are writing the obituary for the team and putting the team in the ground right now. And that’s fine, that’s fair. When you play that way, that’s what you get. Especially in a market as passionate as this, with the type of following we have, that’s what’s going to happen.

But I think from that, and I know from that, comes the opportunity… you can go meekly into the night and just accept and build the excuses that you want for why it didn’t work out the way you wanted it to work out… or fight your way back. It’s not to prove people wrong because I think the criticisms that are levied are largely fair, but it’s a chance to show what your best self can be.

We’ve shown that in flashes, and we’re capable of it in long stretches as we’ve shown through December. And capable of it in really difficult games in various difficult games in the year. But it’s getting to that point now when there’s a large amount of doubt around the team, largely earned, that we can do something special as a group and really earn some of the experiences and the lessons that we want in the end.

Poll

Do you feel any different about the state of the Leafs after Dubas’ answers?

  • 36%

    NO. STILL MAD. WANT BLOOD.

    (78 votes)

  • 14%

    A bit, I’m still pretty peeved though.

    (32 votes)

  • 48%

    Yes, it makes sense and it’s clear Dubas doesn’t like this crap any more than I do.

    (105 votes)



215 votes total

Vote Now

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending