Craig Button buries the Leafs for not responding to Nylander hit

Is Button way out in left field on this take, or does he have a point?



The Toronto Maple Leafs suffered their second straight defeat last night, falling to the division rival Florida Panthers by a 3-1 final score at Averant Bank Arena and bringing back the painful memories of last spring's playoff loss to the eventual Eastern Conference champions. 

And it was a play during the game that had TSN analyst Craig Button up in arms. Forward William Nylander, one of Toronto's most talented offensive players, was drilled from behind by Florida's Dmitri Kulikov but was able to narrowly avoid what could have been a series injury. 

The problem Button had was not only the hit by Kulikov, but what he saw as an extremely telling sign that the team isn't ready to be a real Stanley Cup contender because they didn't respond to their teammate taking a dirty hit from behind. 

Button had the following to say about the hit and the bigger issue that he felt it exposed: 

"Absolutely, and it's an issue that they have to address. And the issue is, are you going to stand up for yourselves and are you not going to let an opponent push you around? 

"They played the Florida Panthers on Thursday night, the team that took them out of the playoffs and pushed them around. What happens, William Nylander gets drilled from behind by Kulikov, and nothing! Crickets! And this team, everyone talks about them being a Stanley Cup contender. I don't see it. Until they stand up for themselves and establish that nobody will take advantage of any one of our players and us, they're not a Stanley Cup contender. 

A preseason game in Vegas this year, Mark Stone gets run by Hayden Hodgson. Mark Stone, Alex Pietrangelo, and Alec Martinez, six Cup rings between them, say, 'Not happening here!'

I'm gonna go back to March of 1997, The Detroit Red Wings had been pushed around by the Colorado Avalanche. (Leafs president) Brendan Shanahan was on that team. And in that game in Detroit, the Red Wings said, 'It ends here! No more! Nobody's taking advantage of us!' And they went on and established that and won the Stanley Cup that year and again in 1998.

Until the Leafs do that, they're not a Stanley Cup contender. They have to show that they're going to stand up for one another and that they're not going to be pushed around. That was another example of what they haven't learned and until they learn it, I ain't buying them." 

There you have it! Are you taking what Button said to heart regarding Toronto's lack of a response to Nylander getting hit from behind? 

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Source: TSN