Yesterday’s housecleaning was “just the beginning” for the Toronto Maple Leafs.
In other words, don’t be surprised if some big-name players are headed out of town this summer, including possibly captain Dion Phaneuf and/or star winger Phil Kessel.
“They know it, we know it, everyone in here knows it, the job didn’t get done,” Shanahan said when asked about his “leadership group,” and whether he expected to make changes to it.
“They also understand that yesterday was just the beginning, that there will be some changes.”
Shanahan later added: “I don’t think what [the fans] can understand is [players] that go out and give half efforts, and that don’t appear to enjoy playing here. You have to give the effort and at least show a happiness in being a Toronto Maple Leaf, and an enthusiasm.”
For the record, Kessel was asked today whether he’d like to be back next season and replied, “Hopefully. I signed eight years last year. I love Toronto.”
But there were certainly times this season when Kessel did not display “a happiness in being a Toronto Maple Leaf,” that’s for sure.
Oh, and in case you’re thinking, “Well, it’s hard to blame the guy,” Shanahan also said he wanted to see that happiness and enthusiasm, “even if the record is the same record (as it was this season).”
As for the daunting task that lies ahead, Shanahan spoke of his “determination to stick to the plan” and threw cold water on the notion that Leafs fans weren’t prepared for a long, comprehensive rebuild. In that way, he clearly differentiated himself from former Leafs architect Brian Burke, who likes to say things like, “I was born impatient, I’m going to die impatient.”
Said Shanahan: “It takes as long as it takes. Whether people have the patience for that or not, in my opinion, you don’t deviate from the vision.”