William Nylander has some fun with the media
Photo credit: NHL

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery admits that something about William Nylander really surprised him

Published February 4, 2024 at 11:07

With another All-Star weekend in the books, this one didn't have the same lacklustre nature to it that we've experienced from past All-Star events. Perhaps it was because it took place in Toronto and that there were several changes to the event that added some intrigue. Or perhaps it was that Team Matthews won it all at home. Whatever the reason, this event was a lot of fun, not only for the fans, but for the players and coaches as well.

Two days before the All-Star Game, Team Hughes, Team MacKinon, Team McDavid and Team Matthews came together at Thursday's All-Star Draft. Matthews and assistant captain Morgan Rielly were giddy about how their team came together at the draft, not only getting both Nylander and Marner with their first two picks, but also getting quite a few guys who they liked a lot pretty late in the draft, including Filip Forsberg, who put on a clinic in the All-Star Game.

Jim Montgomery, head coach of the Boston Bruins, coached Team Matthews, with a little help from celebrity co-captain/coach Justin Bieber. Montgomery admitted to having a blast at the event, but also took note of something that he was very surprised by.

"I noticed Willy talking about backchecking," Montgomery chuckled. "Didn't expect that."

In the past, Nylander had a reputation of being a "me-first" type of player, who didn't really focus too much on defense. However, this season, it's been very obvious that Nylander is more committed to playing on both sides of the puck. Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe even trusts Nylander on the penalty kill now, which would not have been a consideration a year or two ago.

Perhaps we're seeing some real growth from Nylander as he continues to mature as a player. These guys want to win a championship and when the star players buy in like Nylander has, committing to play a two-way game, anything is possible. It was nice to see them get the win at All-Star weekend, but the real work starts now, as the final 35 games will tell us a lot about what kind of team this Maple Leafs group really is.

February 4   |   1175 answers
Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery admits that something about William Nylander really surprised him

Can the Leafs win a championship with a player like William Nylander?

Absolutely86273.4 %
Not a chance15112.9 %
I really hope so16213.8 %
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