Matthew Knies takes a lap during warmups
Photo credit: Yahoo Sports

Leafs rookie disrespects his head coach and could be headed for the press box as a result

Published January 25, 2024 at 10:58

Last night's win over the Winnipeg Jets simply doesn't happen without Ilya Samsonov standing on his head to keep the Leafs in the game, en route to his 32-save shutout. Believe that.

The Leafs were a disjointed mess in front of Samsonov last night, but credit to the struggling goaltender for pulling himself together in a really important game and giving the team absolute perfect goaltending on a night where they needed it.

There were very few guys who "had it" last night, according to Sheldon Keefe in his post-game presser. One of the players who was on the ball was Nicholas Robertson, who received a season-high and career-high in ice time against the Jets last night, helping to create the play that led to Auston Matthews' OT winner. In fact, he ended the night with more ice time than the Leafs' top line LW Matthew Knies, and there might be a good reason or that.

Knies finished last night with just 20 shifts and 16:30 of ice time, whereas Robertson had received 2 extra shifts and 17:08 in ice time last night. It may have had something to do with something that had occurred early in the game.

During the first period, a period in which the Leafs were outshot 16-4, Sheldon Keefe looked to snap his guys out of their funk by addressing them on the bench. At one point, Keefe was laying into rookie winger Matthew Knies, who quickly glanced at his coach and then looking away without so much as acknowledging anything that was being said.

Something like this is pretty easy to overlook if you're not paying attention, but with Knies as the team's top line LW, to see a guy who began the game as the team's 3rd line LW end up with more shifts and more total ice time in the contest, that sends a pretty clear and concise message.

It will be interesting to see whether Keefe gives Knies a game in the press box to consider his actions. The rookie forward is still very much learning and perhaps getting on the same page with his coach would be a good place to start. Of course, they may also have dealt with the issue privately and resolved it. We won't know until either one of the next two practices or Saturday's game. If Knies sits for a game, we'll know for sure that Keefe felt as though a message needed to be sent.
January 25   |   1076 answers
Leafs rookie disrespects his head coach and could be headed for the press box as a result

Do you think there's a rift forming between Sheldon Keefe and some of his players?

Yes, it would surprise me more if there wasn't71666.5 %
No, players and coaches often bump heads21520 %
I'm sure some players like Keefe more than others14513.5 %
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