Ryan O'Reilly admits the truth of his time with Leafs

Well, this isn't exactly a new phenomenon.



There are often times that we hear from some certain hockey fans in Canada that when a high profile player declines to play in a Canadian city, it's because they simply don't want to be able to (or can't) handle the pressure that comes from suiting up for a team like the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens. 

Players who have played for either team will be the first to say that while the hockey tradition is second to none in Canada, the pressure from both fans and media and essentially living in a fishbowl is something that they can usually do without.

2019 Conn Smythe Trophy winning forward Ryan O'Reilly got to experience playing with the Leafs when he was acquired by now-former GM Kyle Dubas at the 2023 NHL Trade Deadline from the St. Louis Blues, and he was instrumental in helping Toronto break their near two-decade playoff curse by winning a series for the first time since 2004. 

So, why did he not return? Well, evidently, there was something to that whole bright spotlight thing of Toronto after all. 

"It wasn't the ultimate decision there. I think so many things come into play, but yeah I think that is a factor as well," O'Reilly replied. "It is different. It is something I did enjoy for the time there but I just felt it was better to be somewhere else."

"There are so many great things that do come with that though. I think that team is amazing and with the pieces they added this year, they're going to be right there contending for it. It is an amazing place. But like anywhere there are two sides to it."

He did make sure to reiterate that he had absolutely nothing bad to say about his time with the Leafs, however. 

"It was incredible. I couldn't have gone to a better place. The way the organization is, the Yankees of the NHL, it was an amazing time," O'Reilly said. "It was such an amazing experience, being from Ontario and playing for all my friends' favourite teams, it was amazing."

Do O'Reilly's comments surprise you, especially given the fact that he's a Conn Smythe Trophy winner?