William Nylander and Auston Matthews
Photo credit: The Score

Leafs star benched for embarrassing effort on defensive play

Published March 2, 2024 at 6:38 PM

With the contract negotiations that went on earlier in the season, William Nylander has been one of the most talked about players this season. He finally got his massive contract after a very strong start to the season, and has kept on the pressure on offence. One thing he is often criticized for is his lack of defensive play, and he made a massive mistake tonight resulting in discipline from head coach Sheldon Keefe.

Here you can see the awful defensive effort from Nylander that gets him his negative reputation. You can see him go for a stick-check on Adam Fox at the blue line and after he missed he glided out of the zone, leaving Lafreniere wide open to bury the puck with a beautiful snipe.

After this goal Nylander was seen getting a talking to from Keefe, and was then benched for the last 9 minutes of the first period. This is a huge message from Keefe as they just signed him to an $11.5M per year contract and he is their leading scorer with 82 points in 59 games. To bench a player who is making that much money is not an easy decision at all.

As we approach playoffs the margin for error becomes increasingly thin and you can't afford any mistakes. Nylander's defensive misplay directly caused a losing goal against, and there is no tolerance for that. Nylander has since been back to play the second period and has even scored the game tying goal. Keefe clearly knows how to get his players to pick it up and respond to their shortcomings, and Nylander is trying his best to turn around his lazy play.
March 2   |   305 answers
Leafs star benched for embarrassing effort on defensive play

Do you think this is a benchable mistake?

Yes, he should know it's unacceptable26586.9 %
No, he needs to be out getting points4013.1 %
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