stats
globeinteractive.com: Making the Business of Life Easier

   Finance globeinvestor   Careers globecareers.workopolis Subscribe to The Globe
The Globe and Mail /globeandmail.com
Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space


Search

space
  This site         Tips

  
space
  The Web Google
space
   space



space

  Where to Find It


Breaking News
  Home Page

  Report on Business

  Sports

  Technology

space
Subscribe to The Globe

Shop at our Globe Store


Print Edition
  Front Page

  Report on Business

  National

  International

  Sports

  Arts & Entertainment

  Editorials

  Columnists

   Headline Index

 Other Sections
  Appointments

  Births & Deaths

  Books

  Classifieds

  Comment

  Education

  Environment

  Facts & Arguments

  Focus

  Health

  Obituaries

  Real Estate

  Review

  Science

  Style

  Technology

  Travel

  Wheels

 Leisure
  Cartoon

  Crosswords

  Food & Dining

  Golf

  Horoscopes

  Movies

  Online Personals

  TV Listings/News

 Specials & Series
  All Reports...

space

Services
   Where to Find It
 A quick guide to what's available on the site

 Newspaper
  Advertise

  Corrections

  Customer Service

  Help & Contact Us

  Reprints

  Subscriptions

 Web Site
  Advertise

  E-Mail Newsletters

  Free Headlines

  Globe Store New

  Help & Contact Us

  Make Us Home

  Mobile New

  Press Room

  Privacy Policy

  Terms & Conditions


GiveLife.ca

    

PRINT EDITION
THE NYLANDER CRISIS
space
The youngster is setting a dangerous precedent in Toronto, and if the team does manage to sign him, every dollar it gives him is one it can't spend later on stars playing winning hockey
space
By CATHAL KELLY
  
  

Email this article Print this article
Saturday, December 1, 2018 – Page S1

TORONTO -- It seems an awful long time since Conn Smythe bought King Clancy in part with money won on a 100-to-1 long shot at the track.

That's not just because Smythe, Clancy, horse racing and the romantic notion that the Toronto Maple Leafs have anything but bad luck are long gone.

It's now impossible to imagine an NHL team shot-caller looking at the numbers and thinking, "I'll stake my career on that guy."

That is the cramped situation Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas finds himself in as regards the William Nylander Crisis (formerly the William Nylander Question, William Nylander Watch and the William Nylander Saga).

The Leafs have until 5 p.m. ET on Saturday to sign their reluctant staffer. If Nylander still refuses to agree to terms at that point, he goes back on the NHL slush pile and can't be retrieved until next July. That won't stop anyone from recommencing talking about this mess all over again on Sunday.

At this point, the Leafs' problem isn't getting Nylander into a Toronto uniform. It's how to get him out of one.

Nylander gambled that the Leafs would be worse off without him this year. Instead, they've been better. In game-of-chicken terms, he hasn't flinched; he's been flattened.

His talent is undoubted, but in the strange way of sports, adding someone to a high-performing group sometimes turns into a sort of subtraction.

The situation has been made worse because any deal with Nylander creates an erratic knock-on effect.

Every dollar you give him is one you can't give Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, Jake Gardiner, Kasperi Kapanen, Andreas Johnsson and so forth. You know, the guys actually playing winning hockey.

With the salary cap hovering somewhere around US$80-million next year, you can only have so many eight-figurea-year guys on the payroll.

In short order, the Leafs will have three of them (Matthews, Marner and John Tavares), and a few others looking for something just south of that.

The napkin math doesn't work. The Leafs have become your poorly though out auction-draft fantasy team. You take who you like for the first couple of spots, and that makes completing the roster impossible.

The Leafs are feeling the pressure so acutely not just because they're oversupplied with young talent, but because they're the Leafs. The expectation based on history is that they will find a way to get all their Sophie's roster choices wrong.

God help the man who chooses Nylander over Kapanen, Kapanen over Nylander, Gardiner over Kapanen or any one of dozens of other either/or permutations and pooches it.

As such, the most important player in the Leafs org chart over the coming year and a bit doesn't wear skates. He's the guy who presents the contracts.

If Dubas is responsible for all the bookkeeping to come, Leafs president Brendan Shanahan has already done the evangelizing.

"When I get together with some of my old mates from the Cup years in Detroit, we talk about winning together and growing together," Shanahan said in the preseason.

"We all found a way to fit with each other so that we could keep adding to the group. That's obviously what we are asking some of our young leaders to do."

The codicil to that well-travelled quote is rarely mentioned: "It's not for everyone."

When you're 21 years old and still dreaming of buying your mother a house, it's probably not for anyone.

Most of the stars on Shanahan's Detroit teams, including Shanahan, were veterans who'd made their money. Trading a few bucks they already had for a ring was a fair bargain.

It should seem like less of one to the Matthewses of the world. In the entirety of his career, Matthews has earned what Shanahan used to make in a few months.

And the only dollar you can count on is one that's sitting in your bank account.

There will be no discounts from the top-tier guys. They've already seen how effectively a holdout can dominate the Toronto news cycle, even when the Leafs are winning. It's all anyone wants to talk about.

Imagine if a great player had done it?

They'd have had to cancel all media leaves and created a TV-camera tent city outside Scotiabank Arena.

In the best spirit of missing every shot you don't take, Nylander gave it a whirl.

But in so doing, he has turned himself into Dubas's and Shanahan's long shot.

Unlike Smythe, they don't need this bet to pay off.

Even if it does - if Nylander comes back, becomes the good company man no one will ever again believe he is and produces - it will still blow up on them.

Once this distraction ends, we will move seamlessly into the next one - trying to figure which guy or guys have to leave because Nylander stayed. You might be able to slip that one by in Columbus.

You can't in Toronto.

In short order, this stops being a problem of tactics and becomes one of messaging. From now on, every stumble the Leafs take is put through the lens of how they handled the Nylander thing. It's the first hard choice this management group has had to make. If everything goes wrong, this will be looked back upon as the initial mistake.

In business terms, it would be called premature scaling - spending too much on one aspect of what you do, to the detriment of others. It kills more start-ups than any other single cause. What are the Leafs right now but a century-old start-up?

Leaning hard on the positive, coach Mike Babcock said this week that he believes Nylander will be "a career Leaf."

It's a nice thought.

A more nuanced one is that since Nylander didn't want to play for you, which current Leaf(s) are you willing to give up so that that can happen? And how are you going to explain it if the end result of that decision falls anything short of a championship?

Short answer: you can't.

That should make the Leafs' decision simple. Nylander will play for someone next year. He can have anyone he likes, as long as it isn't Toronto.

Associated Graphic

William Nylander of the Leafs walks to the dressing room before a 2017 game. He's been in a protracted contract dispute with the team this season.

MARK BLINCH/NHLI VIA GETTY IMAGES

The pressure on GM Kyle Dubas, left, and president Brendan Shanahan is amplified by the team's status.

BRUCE BENNETT/GETTY IMAGES


Huh? How did I get here?
Return to Main Paul_Sullivan Page
Subscribe to
The Globe and Mail
 

Email this article Print this article

space  Advertisement
space

Need CPR for your RSP? Check your portfolio’s pulse and lower yours by improving the overall health of your investments. Click here.

Advertisement

7-Day Site Search
    

Breaking News



Today's Weather


Inside

Rick Salutin
Merrily marching
off to war
Roy MacGregor
Duct tape might hold
when panic strikes


Editorial
Where Manley is going with his first budget




space

Columnists



For a columnist's most recent stories, click on their name below.

 National


Roy MacGregor arrow
This Country
space
Jeffrey Simpson arrow
The Nation
space
Margaret Wente arrow
Counterpoint
space
Hugh Winsor  arrow
The Power Game
space
 Business


Rob Carrick arrow
Personal Finance
space
Drew Fagan arrow
The Big Picture
space
Mathew Ingram arrow
space
Brent Jang arrow
Business West
space
Brian Milner arrow
Taking Stock
space
Eric Reguly arrow
To The Point
space
Andrew Willis arrow
Streetwise
space
 Sports


Stephen Brunt arrow
The Game
space
Eric Duhatschek arrow
space
Allan Maki arrow
space
William Houston arrow
Truth & Rumours
space
Lorne Rubenstein arrow
Golf
space
 The Arts


John Doyle arrow
Television
space
John MacLachlan Gray arrow
Gray's Anatomy
space
David Macfarlane arrow
Cheap Seats
space
Johanna Schneller arrow
Moviegoer
space
 Comment


Murray Campbell arrow
Ontario Politics
space
Lysiane Gagnon arrow
Inside Quebec
space
Marcus Gee arrow
The World
space
William Johnson arrow
Pit Bill
space
Paul Knox arrow
Worldbeat
space
Heather Mallick arrow
As If
space
Leah McLaren arrow
Generation Why
space
Rex Murphy arrow
Japes of Wrath
space
Rick Salutin arrow
On The Other Hand
space
Paul Sullivan arrow
The West
space
William Thorsell arrow
space





Home | Business | National | Int'l | Sports | Columnists | The Arts | Tech | Travel | TV | Wheels
space

© 2003 Bell Globemedia Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.
Help & Contact Us | Back to the top of this page