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Unpacking Maple Leafs brass' end-of-season presser

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The Toronto Maple Leafs' brain trust faced the media Friday after another early playoff exit, addressing concerns about the state of the franchise.

Recently hired Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment (MLSE) CEO Keith Pelley, president Brendan Shanahan, and general manager Brad Treliving fielded the questions on everyone's minds heading into what projects to be a busy offseason in Toronto.

Here are the key points.

Shanahan's job security

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Shanahan was widely believed to be on the hot seat this summer but will retain his role.

"Brendan Shanahan is the president of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He's a champion," Pelley said, referencing Shanahan's playing days.

Shanahan was hired by the Maple Leafs in 2014. He declined to comment on his current contract but vowed it won't become a distraction for the team.

The core

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After years of unrelenting faith in his club's core, Shanahan struck a different tune when asked if a blockbuster trade might be coming.

"We will look at everything this summer and consider everything this summer," Shanahan said.

He added: "There's a time where you look at the age and the development of players, and you talk about patience. Then there comes a time when you see certain patterns and trends repeat themselves, results repeat themselves. And that's what we have to do this summer."

Shanahan declined to talk about specific players, but Mitch Marner and John Tavares are the most common names involved in trade rumors. Both players have full no-trade clauses but are entering the final season of their respective contracts while Auston Matthews, William Nylander, and Morgan Rielly are in the midst of long-term deals.

"There comes a time where you have to say that you have new information to you, the information has evolved, and you have to adjust your way of thinking," Shanahan said. "I know the desire is there. I can tell you that every player that has been here the entire time wants to win in Toronto."

He continued: "I don't question their dedication, but I do question our ability as a group to get it done in those difficult times."

Coaching search and stylistic changes

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Unsurprisingly, the Leafs' executives were asked about the club's next head coach after firing Sheldon Keefe on Thursday. Shanahan said whoever they bring in to run the bench will have a say in any major personnel decisions, while Treliving didn't tip his hand on any targets.

"There's some good coaching candidates out there, we intend to explore them," the general manager said. "I'm not going to get into specific individuals. As far as a timeline, we want to be thorough, but we also understand there's other openings."

After managing only 12 goals in their series against the Boston Bruins, Treliving made it clear that the Leafs need to make adjustments to create more offense in the playoffs.

"You score differently in the playoffs than you do in the regular season," he said. "So is it systematic? Is it personnel? I think most of us in this room would understand it's more difficult, you're defended harder, you're played against harder in the playoffs. So we haven't scored enough, our special teams haven't been good enough ... and we seem to be turning the other team's goalie into the first star every night."

He continued: "There's some things in this sport, in our games especially this time of year, that are not related to skill, but they help you win. That's not to say you've got to get rid of skill. You need skill, you need talent. You need that to win, but to me, we need a voice that can bring that out."

Winning culture

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Pelley, who was brought aboard in January, made his desire to help turn the Maple Leafs into a winning organization clear.

"Good is simply not good enough," he said. "We need to win. Nothing else matters. No doubt you’ve heard that before. But I am a thousand percent committed to it."

The CEO added: "I cannot comment on what has transpired over the last number of years, but I can tell you that chemistry and unity is the critical components that add with skill in order to be successful. And winning is winning the Stanley Cup."

Playoff injuries

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Treliving unwrapped some of the mystery surrounding injuries to key Leafs in the playoffs.

  • Matthews, who missed Games 5 and 6, became ill with a virus after Game 2. In Game 4, he sustained a hit that caused a head injury.
  • Goaltender Joseph Woll sprained his back in his Game 6 victory, making him unavailable for the series finale.
  • Bobby McMann sustained an MCL sprain in Toronto's third-last regular season game and was given a recovery timeline of six-to-seven weeks.
  • Connor Dewar, a restricted free agent this summer, underwent shoulder surgery and is expected to be ready for training camp.

Treliving backed Woll as Toronto's goalie of the future with Ilya Samsonov set to hit unrestricted free agency.

"I've got faith in Joe," the executive said. "The biggest question with Joe is he's gotten injured a lot. We have to dig into that."

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