In case you missed it, the Toronto Maple Leafs officially opened the 2018-19 NHL season with a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, but notably absent from the team’s lineup was star Leafs forward William Nylander.
Of course, the 22 year old Swedish forward’s three year, entry level contract expired on June 30th, 2018 and it would appear that Nylander and the Leafs are nowhere near coming to terms on a new deal.
Yesterday afternoon, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan delivered a not so subtle message to Nylander. While speaking to reports about the contentious negotiations between the Leafs and Nylander, Shanahan confirmed that he expects players to take less in order to keep the group together and grow into a championship calibre team. Check out some of these quotes from Shanahan’s interview with Sportsnet earlier today in which he spoke about Nylander and the strained contract negotiations between the player and the team:
“We want players that want to be Maple Leafs and this might not be for everyone…”
“To embrace the city of Toronto, you have to WANT to be a Toronto Maple Leaf and we are lucky that we have a lot of players that seem to embrace that responsibility.”
“We’re working hard toward William… we want William to be a part of this, but obviously this is something that William has to go through.”
“It’s not for everyone and we’re not for everyone, but we feel that with the players we currently have, while it’s not going to be easy, we have great confidence that they have bought into this program and being a part of the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
Translate: get your act together, kid.
Now today, Nylander is firing back in an exclusive interview with Swedish tabloid Aftonbladet. Check out some of these quotes:
“Right now, I do not know more than all the rest of you. I have not received any messages and have no contact with Toronto. It’s my agent who takes care of everything.”
“In the end I have to take care of myself and do what I and my agent thinks is right. Especially if it’s about several years to come. I need to think long term. It’s my own future it’s about.”
As for the game… well Nylander had a few words about that, as well:
“I saw the highlights from the game in the morning. Those were great goals. I want to play, but now it’s the way it is. But I want to stay in Toronto.”
So sign the offer Willie, sign it and you can play…