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Shanahan calls it a ‘bad habit’ to build team in free agency

Jul 10, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT

Brendan Shanahan; AP

“With all due respect to the players that were signed for big dollars and big term, we looked at July 1st this year and decided that we didn’t want to be too involved with some of those big signings … It’s a bad habit to try and build your team on July 1st year after year after year.”

That was Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan, per, after Toronto stayed largely out of the free-agent frenzy. The biggest deal the club gave out on July 1 was for four years and $11.8 million, to former Leaf Leo Komarov. The Leafs also signed veteran defenseman Stephane Robidas to a three-year, $9 million contract, before giving Mike Santorelli a one-year, $1.5 million commitment on July 3.

Toronto had wanted to re-sign Dave Bolland, but ultimately would not give the veteran center what Florida offered (five years, $27.5 million).

The Leafs, of course, have been burned in free agency before. Just last year they gave David Clarkson a seven-year, $36.75 million deal, only to watch him score five times in 2013-14.

Defenseman Mike Komisarek was another free-agent bust.

  1. valoisvipers - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Most UFAs normally come with a buyer beware warning label and those that don’t, will be vastly overpaid. So yes it is a tough way to build but if you need a certain piece and that piece is available then I say overpay as you must but keep the term short if you can.

    • geejon - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:42 PM

      Unfortunately it’s tough to keep the term short on a good player because there will always be awful teams with money to burn who need to hit the salary floor who will offer more years and most players (understandably) choose the longer contract even if that means playing for a dog team. Cases like Dan Boyle’s this summer, where he left money and years on the table from other teams because he wanted to play in NYC are few and far between and they usually do that when they’re older like Boyle, not in their prime.

  2. kaptaanamerica - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:44 PM

    Lols, shaggy told nonis to keep his pants on… lest he get taken for a ride like last year… Santorelli will out score that turd Clarkson this year… wish the Canucks hadn’t let Santorelli walk.

    • lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:57 PM

      I keep hearing good things about Mike Santorelli. I was on Canucks Facebook page and the comments I was reading about him gave me hope that the Leafs picked up a good one. I will admit, that I don’t know much about him, except what I’ve read about him on social media, what his stats are and watching some video clips on Youtube; and that’s all I can base my opinion on. Until I actually see him play for the Maple Leafs. But I’m getting good vibes about him from what I’ve been reading about him

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 10, 2014 at 5:13 PM

        he was the best Canuck until he got injured. Benning tried to arm twist him into a low ball contract, but the guy plays balls out every game and shift…

    • elrock7 - Jul 10, 2014 at 8:09 PM

      Yeah the Sedin sisters are about the only ones who want to play for the canuckleheads. Even bandaids like kesler want out.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 10, 2014 at 8:34 PM

        elrock… everyone knows you are an unrepentant homer in all your comments. why are you so vindictive and all the vitriol against the Canucks? did the Canucks do something to you? (other than have a ten year win streak against the leafs (which tortellini managed to destroy)? and take Sundin away?)

      • elrock7 - Jul 10, 2014 at 9:09 PM

        that’s funny kaptaan since everyone of your posts bashes the leafs in some way.

  3. lakeshoreleafsfan - Jul 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    And in a way, Brendan Shanahan has a valid point to that comment. It’s like making a trade by trade deadline day. You don’t have to make a trade just because you can. Sometimes the best trade is making no trades. So, just because one is a free agent, doesn’t mean you have to sign a free agents. Look at Florida and the money they spent on free agency this year…does it mean they’re automatically a better team that’ll go far into the playoffs; if they make it that far? No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t always hurt, but it doesn’t always help either

  4. nyking1963 - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:20 PM

    I agree with Shanahan….There’s a reason why a team is letting a player go to free agency without re-signing him. He’s either asking for a contract that he’s really not worth, or he’s not the player these other teams think he is. There are exceptions, but few and far between to make it worthwhile.
    Why do you think guys like Kane/Toews/Crosby/ Doughty, etc never make it to free agency in their prime?
    Every free agent looks good in the summer. The warts begin appearing come October. By then it’s too late. Just ask the Rangers who year in and year out go for the biggest and the best only to find out they’re the biggest busts. Brad Richards?
    The best teams in hockey build through the draft. They add pieces thru free agency and trades, but don’t build their teams that way..example Kings/Blackhawks

  5. garybrian - Jul 10, 2014 at 3:39 PM

    Good move by Shanny. Leafs have already been screwed enough times paying big money for FA’s that don’t go anywhere.

  6. obamareallysucks - Jul 10, 2014 at 4:12 PM

    leafs suck like obama

    • kaptaanamerica - Jul 10, 2014 at 6:57 PM

      Wrong. clearly one of them sucks harder, but it’s hard to figure out who… tough one… is it the leafs with their long term history of sucking, or is it obama who has made a sustained effort since coming into office and has really made a huge push for title going into the last election onwards…

      really tough this one…

      maybe gordon ramsay can help determine the answer to that question…

      • elrock7 - Jul 10, 2014 at 10:41 PM

        Gee another vindictive leaf comment, and full of vitriol too! Kaptaanvitriol at it again…shocker!

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 11, 2014 at 12:21 AM

        vindictive? how? i asked a legitimate question.

      • Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:07 AM

        Always cracks me up how butthurt about Toronto some Vancouver fans get. Anything and everything Toronto just makes you losers mad.

        I’m guessing kaptaan either lost a girl to a Leafs fan… OR… Daddy was a Leaf fan who went out for a pack of cigarettes and never came back home. Can’t say I blame him.

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:26 AM

        i’m surprised how butt hurt leafs fans get whenever someone posts something even mildly negative about the leafs… it’s not like the CBC or other toronto media aren’t always getting negative on the teams in other cities in Canada…

        i suppose your ex (who you lost to your best friend) might have started to cheer for another team and it rubs you the wrong way now… or could it be that momma started dating a guy cheering for another team? anyways i feel sad for you, you can never ice a winner, regular season or in playoffs…

    • blomfeld - Jul 10, 2014 at 10:41 PM


      “I promise you I will listen to what has been said here, even though I wasn’t here” … George W Bush @ the President’s Economic Forum in Waco, Texas, Aug. 13, 2002

  7. pavelfitzgerald - Jul 10, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    So Shanny says this with a straight face after giving the aging Robidas $3 years @ $3million per year .. .. ..

  8. pavelfitzgerald - Jul 10, 2014 at 6:37 PM

    So Shanny says this with a straight face after giving the aging Robidas $3 years @ $3million per year .. .. ..

  9. dbarnes79 - Jul 10, 2014 at 6:52 PM

    Right and the Leafs aren’t guilty if this? They should have started a true rebuild when Burke was hire but that didn’t happen. The Leafs have been trying to take shortcuts for years and now end up with a mediocre team. If they had not traded for Kessel, and he has been great but, they would possibly have a team with Seguin, Hamilton, Reilly, Gardiner , Kadri and so on to build on. Sounds a lot better to me.

  10. ray2013 - Jul 10, 2014 at 7:25 PM

    I guess it depends on what you’re looking for in free agency. I see the Oilers adding a dman like Fayne. That’s a solid addition to a weak part of the team, and they did not have to trade any picks or prospects for him.

    Trying to hit a home run in free agency. I’d love to see some stats on how players have played after signing with a new team for significant $.

  11. roblo76 - Jul 10, 2014 at 8:07 PM

    Meaning: “All we manged to sign were a handful of journeymen 3rd liners, we couldn’t get anyone else to come here.”

    • elrock7 - Jul 10, 2014 at 10:45 PM

      Umm…just looked at this years free agent list. Except for Stastny (who is a 2nd liner) they are all 3rd liners, and 4 to 6 dmen.

      • roblo76 - Jul 10, 2014 at 10:51 PM

        That’s why they offered the moon for (3rd liner) Dave Bolland and even HE didn’t want to stay there. His hometown!

  12. packerfansareinbred - Jul 10, 2014 at 8:54 PM

    The Leafs should try rebuilding via FA once and awhile.. Anything could help that dump of a team!

  13. adamal17 - Jul 10, 2014 at 10:14 PM

    Shanahans best years were with what organization? The Red Wings. The team that has spawned the building of the hawks; the two beat organizations in the NHL and the two organizations with the most home grown players. That’s how you judge how great an overall team is. One that can insert a player or two here and there and have them mesh with your own players. The hawks have done that best recently…so have the Kings. The two most successful teams of the past 4 years. It’s not an accident. It’s science…hockey science.

  14. Hard to BeLeaf - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:01 AM

    Shanahan’s not wrong. Only way the Leafs are going to get better is by building within through the draft. Top free agents will never go to a rebuild.

    Look at Kadri, he was Brian Burke’s first pick as Leafs’ GM and Kadri’s first FULL season was last year. There’s a decent crop of prospects in the system now, and they need time to work their way up too.

    I like that they’re keeping some roster spots open for the taking instead of overpaying another David Clarkson, Tim Connolly or Mike Komisarek to fill the hole. The team and fans need to be patient. Prospects don’t develop overnight.

  15. purpleguy - Jul 11, 2014 at 11:23 AM

    That works if a team has developed a feeder system with talented youngsters in the pipeline; however, sometimes FA signings are necessary to make up for draft mistakes.

  16. hockeydon10 - Jul 11, 2014 at 1:13 PM

    I read this as Shanahan not saying this to the league in general, or to the teams that signed a lot of free agents this off-season. Rather, he’s saying, “Sit down and shut the F up!” to the type of Leafs fan — and their media is a big part of this — that demands big moves every year during free agency, big moves at the trade deadline, and demands they put together a roster to win the cup every year.

  17. paulerhythm - Jul 11, 2014 at 2:12 PM

    For those that bash the Leafs, they do deserve it, going 47 years since their last Cup in 1967. However, I will remind you that they have 13 Cups, which is 2nd to Montreal ‘ s 24 Cups, in their storied franchise history. They’re on the right track if Shanahan is serious in his statement.

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