Brendan Shanahan makes the media rounds, Dominic Moore describes last year’s prescout of the Leafs, plans for the Dec. 19 anniversary game announced, and more in the links.

Leafs Links

Shanahan on Leafs’ captain: ‘When the time is right, the time is right’ (TSN)
Brendan Shanahan says there are multiple leaders on their team and they all show leadership in different ways, but ultimately it’s up to Lou Lamoriello, Mike Babcock and the staff to make a decision on their captain when they feel the time is right.

On whether now is the right time to name a captain:

I think it’s important to have leadership. You don’t have to be a captain to show leadership on the ice or show leadership in the room. For us, it’s always going to be about having as many leaders as possible and when Mike and Lou and our staff decide when it’s time and that it’s the right move, they’ll do it. For me, there are more important things that are going into the process now. Like I said, when the time is right, the time is right and we’ll know it. We’ll make that decision then.

On Auston Matthews’ leadership:

We have several players that have shown leadership and Auston has shown that as well. Again, I think it’s a story for the press. I don’t think it’s a story for us or a story for the players. When the time is right, the time will be right. I’ve been on lots of teams where even when one guy wore the C, on lots of nights other players stood up in leadership roles. Sometimes guys who played very small roles on the team were important voices. What I like about our team is just how it seems they really like each other and they really support each other and have a lot of different ways of showing leadership.

On the addition of Patrick Marleau:

It’s a lot more simple than that. He’s an excellent hockey player. He’s a great ambassador and example for our young players. You talk about longevity and preparation and the professionalism that Patrick brings, and he’s a good hockey player. I don’t think we were trying to send a message so much as we had an opportunity to add a good hockey player to our team and someone that we think will be not only an excellent fit but an excellent role model. We were lucky enough to get him.

On expectations for the season ahead:

At the end of the day, we got into the playoffs in our 81st game. We didn’t get past the first round, and yet there was still a lot of happiness and joy and optimism about where we could go. You have to do it. We understand there is a lot of work ahead of us. We are pleased with the work the players have put in and the coaching staff and our management. They’re all very dedicated. I think the fans like our players; I think our players like our fans. They enjoy being Maple Leafs. They love what is happening in the city, but they’re also smart enough to know — it’s still a young, inexperienced team — they seem to understand that they are just getting started.

On winning fans back:

There is a generation of young fans that are maybe wearing Penguins hats or Blackhawks hats or LA King hats. That wouldn’t have happened in Toronto a couple of decades ago. You have to earn that back. That’s something that our team and our players are committed to doing. It’s not something we’re entitled to. It’s something they want to earn back — that love and passion in this city.

There are a lot of little things that go into it. I do get a real sense that the relationship between the players and the fans is very, very good and very strong. A lot of mutual admiration. I think that the fans like our team and our team likes playing for them. When we get into the playoffs, we see Maple Leaf Square and that enthusiasm and the arena becomes a much louder, more celebratory place. The players sort of feed off of that. These are young guys who seem to embrace that spotlight; who embrace the responsibility of being a Maple Leaf.

On the increased pressure facing the team this season:

We’ve got such a good coaching staff. Mike keeps them focused on what their job is that day each day. These guys now, by the time they’re getting to the NHL — whether they’ve been around for a while or are just arriving — they’ve dealt with expectations. You can’t be a champion in any sport unless you know how to deal with expectations and pressure, and things like that. I think we’ve got a lot of people that embrace it, but Mike keeps them grounded. Each and every day they go on the ice, they know what their job is.

McGuire: Leafs are built for their championship window now (TSN1050)
TSN 1050 Hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Andi Petrillo and Gord Miller to discuss the expectations on Morgan Rielly, whether the Leafs rookie will have a sophomore slump and the Toronto having their window to win open now.

I think they’ve got a realistic opportunity to be a home-ice team this year and then go forward from there and be a legitimate Cup contender. It’s one thing to compete for the Cup, and it’s another thing to be a legitimate contender. There are a lot of teams with a lot of promise. It’s a real interesting time to be around the league; there is really no super team around the league. Everybody has got an opportunity to win. I was talking with a GM in the NFL — the league with the most parity of any league in the world — and he’s a huge hockey fan. He said to me, “man oh man, I wouldn’t want to be in your league; it’s so hard.” I said, “I wouldn’t want to be in your league; it’s harder.”  I do think Toronto is poised to be a home-ice team in the East. They have a realistic opportunity to go very, very deep.

I would say [it’s the number-one defenceman that’s missing]. That’s not a knock on Gardiner or Rielly. That’s just the reality. It’s hard to find Duncan Keiths and Drew Doughtys. Morgan Rielly was an early pick; Jake Gardiner was a first round pick. They’re good players. To find a number one like Nik Lidstrom…. Hard to find a Chris Chelios. Those guys are unique breeds. I don’t think Toronto has anybody like that, but boy, if they get one, they’re going to be in a really, really good position.

Moore: There’s a lot of excitement around this team (TSN1050)
Maple Leafs forward Dominic Moore joined OverDrive to chat about what’s different about this year’s training camp, how he plans to elevate his game, and being a veteran on this young Leafs team.

In terms of the prescout last year, it was all about the team speed. Not only down the ice in transition offensively, but the tracking and backchecking — these guys play fast in all facets. That is intimidating to teams. You talk about the NHL now and it used to be that size was intimidating. It still can be, of course, but I think speed is intimidating.

Shanahan: “We want to be a place where players stay & have an era” (MLHS)
Like I said, I won’t say one way or the other. I just know that I saw Lou today and he had a ton of energy. He’s ready for this season. He was working hard all this summer. This is an incredible man who just doesn’t slow down. He really is a medical marvel when you think about some of the guys that I will bump into – peers and friends around the league – and know it can be a draining job to be a GM of a team. They still shake their head at him and the amount of work he does and puts into it.

Shanahan: “Players are seeing T.O. as different than a few years ago” (MLHS)
“They enjoy playing in Toronto. I think that the Toronto fans enjoy the team. There is a good back and forth and a good relationship. I think that the players lean on each other and support each other. They’ve helped to create a very positive environment. You’re going to have – in any season, especially if you have a core group of players that stay together for a while – highs and lows and ups and downs. They have to expect that. That’s why you have veteran players and veteran people around them to help them prepare for things like that. Overall, they’re creating their own environment here. They’re creating a space where players – either FAs from Europe or FAs in the NHL – are seeing Toronto as a different destination than maybe they did a few years ago.”

Mirtle: The key battles to watch at Maple Leafs training camp (The Athletic)
The longer I look at this logjam, the more awkward a fit Marleau feels here. The Leafs were already a top-five team offensively and top two on the power play. They already had an abundance of forwards, with some kids coming that would be able to push for spots and fill-in in case of injury. Adding Marleau on a big contract just forces out someone who played well last season where they were slotted.

Shanahan unplugged: Leafs president finally has players who embrace city (NP)
Calling the notion that the press and public spotlight made Toronto a difficult place to play “a cop-out,” Shanahan then added that, “We have an incredibly resilient loyal fan base. We need to have an incredibly resilient group of players who love to play in Toronto. We need a resilient group of managers from top to bottom that are committed to doing this in Toronto in spite of any difficulties or perceived difficulties that this is a harder market than other markets. I don’t believe that.”

Brendan Shanahan hesitant to buy into hype surrounding Leafs (Sportsnet)
“I think that our fans like our players and I think our players like our fans,” said Shanahan. “(The players) enjoy being Maple Leafs, they love what’s happening in the city. But they’re also smart enough to know – which is incredible because it’s still a very young, inexperienced team – they seem to understand that they are just getting started.”

Leafs to don throwback jerseys to celebrate first ever NHL game (NP)
“We’re now able to look ahead as we start to write the next great chapters in team history along with creating new generations of Leafs fans, which is an important part of this celebration,” said Shanahan. Toronto Mayor John Tory, meanwhile, announced that Dec. 19 will officially be proclaimed Toronto Maple Leafs Day. The commemorative jersey for the game is based on the Toronto Arenas’ uniform worn in the franchise’s second season.

Shanahan eyes more work ahead for Leafs amid hype (
Less than 18 months ago, the Maple Leafs finished dead-last in the NHL standings, the culmination of many first steps on the path of what was predicted to be a painful rebuild. Fast-forward to Tuesday, and Toronto Mayor John Tory is publicly proclaiming at the Leafs’ unveiling of their Next Century Game (Dec. 19) plans that he expected Toronto to win a Stanley Cup while he was still in office – although he smartly added the caveat, “I hope to get a second term.”

Ron Hainsey brings solid resumé to Maple Leafs’ blue line (Toronto Star)
In a world of pro sports where it’s “us” against “them,” defenceman Ron Hainsey is having a little trouble using the word “we” when it comes to describing the Maple Leafs. “From the top down they know how to play,” Hainsey said of his new teammates. “They’re well-coached, they’ve got some skill and they’ve got some guys who can put the puck in the net. I should say ‘we’ now. We’ll get going.”