A concerning trend developing with the Leafs' top players; it needs to be addressed

Mike Armenti
December 29, 2023  (12:16)

Matthews, Marner and other team leaders not leading by example following embarrassing loss to Ottawa
Photo credit: NHL

The number one concern right now in Toronto is probably the lack of any real consistency this season, aside from the almost automatic losses to the league's bottom-feeders, of course.

After an embarrassing loss to the Ottawa Senators on Wednesday, the Leafs are 2-5-2 against the bottom 7 teams in the NHL this season, which is more than just a concerning trend. It's a frustrating one. These are supposed to be automatic points in the standings - not automatic losses - and fans are getting sick of it.
Another concerning trend is starting to surface as well. Following a loss this season, the Leafs don't seem to have a particularly large presence at the option skate before the next game. Not only that, but none of the team's top players seem to be attending these skates, even after embarrassing losses to bad teams.
The Leafs had just 11 players on the ice on Friday for the optional skate against the Blue Jackets in Columbus. As you might expect, both goaltenders were among them, as Ilya Samsonov was out with Martin Jones for some extra reps before his start tonight.
As far as the defense goes, Mark Giordano, Simon Benoit, William Lagesson and Conor Timmins represented the blueline at the optional skate, while Morgan Rielly, T.J. Brodie, Jake McCabe and Timothy Liljegren chose not to attend.
Among the forwards in attendance were Matthew Knies, Nick Robertson, David Kampf, Bobby McMann and Pontus Holmberg. The obvious question here is, why do the Leafs' top players think it's okay to opt out of the morning skate on a game day following a performance like the one they put up against Ottawa coming off of the holiday break? These guys are supposed to be leading by example.
This leadership group needs to do a better job of holding themselves and each other accountable. Nobody is saying that they need to come to the morning skate and work their tails off before a game, but just their presence on the ice would send a message that would reverberate through the locker room that everyone should show up, especially following a loss to a bad team. Of course, that's just my opinion.
A concerning trend developing with the Leafs' top players; it needs to be addressed

Should the leadership group in Toronto attend the morning skates following a loss to a bad team?

Yes, lead by example83688 %
Maybe, depending on how bad the loss was434.5 %
No, they're optional for a reason717.5 %
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