Ryan O'Reilly on the real reason he left the Maple Leafs.
Kevin Sousa/NHLI/Getty  

Ryan O'Reilly on the real reason he left the Maple Leafs.

The former Maple Leaf returns to Toronto on Saturday night and he opens up about why he left.

Jonathan Larivee

Many fans in Toronto were left sorely disappointed this summer when they learned that veteran forward Ryan O'Reilly would not be returning to the organization after a solid playoff performance with the Maple Leafs. That naturally raised some questions about why O'Reilly chose to leave with many pundits speculating that the intense Toronto market may have played a factor.

On Saturday, ahead of a matchup against the Maple Leafs in Nashville as a new member of the Nashville Predators, O'Reilly admitted that it was indeed a factor while trying his best to downplay it.

"I don't think as much as people thought," admitted O'Reilly. " I think that kind of blown out of proportion a little bit. There were so many other things that came into my decision.

"For sure do I like it down here in that sense where you can fly under the radar and take my kid to hockey," added O'Reilly. "At this point in my career I think I enjoy that, being able to spend more time with my kids."

While O'Reilly did admit it was a factor in his decision, he also added that it was part of what made playing in Toronto special as well.

"Playing in Toronto that's one thing that does make it special too," said O'Reilly. "The passion, the amount of coverage and media there is, that's why it's become the Mecca of hockey too."

Although O'Reilly did suggest there were other factors at play he didn't share any specific details in that regard, and you have to wonder how large of a role it played given his own admission today that it did indeed weigh in his decision.