Samsonov has a surprising reaction to the Leafs putting him on waivers and demoting him

Mike Armenti
January 22, 2024  (10:53)

Ilya Samsonov ready to lead the Leafs out for a home game
Photo credit: NHL

Prior to puck drop last night in Seattle, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe told the media that Ilya Samsonov was hungry to get back in net for the team. That much should have been obvious, as Samsonov has been relegated to backup duty, cleared waivers and had even spent a short stint in the American Hockey League, working with the team's development staff.

With Martin Jones having started 10 of the Leafs' previous 11 games and averaging 4 goals against per game over his previous 5 starts, Keefe viewed Sunday's game in Seattle as the perfect opportunity to get Samsonov back into the swing of things. Not only did Samsonov skate away with the win, turning aside 16 pucks en route to his first win since December 9th, he also earned player of the game honours, being handed the Leafs championship belt from teammate Auston Matthews.
The media caught up with an elated Samsonov following the game and it was clear that he's feeling much more confident at the moment than he was just a couple of short weeks ago. Samsonov revealed to the media on Sunday that he may not have looked it following the win on the ice, but he's very excited to finally get back into the win column.
"Maybe after the game not a lot of emotion but I'm so excited." - Samsonov on his first win since December 9th

Due to his play this season, Samsonov has admittedly been struggling mentally for most of the season. Now, he's trying to stay focused on the moment rather than dwelling on his rough start.
"Just stay in the moment. Stay in the moment and help the team for the win. From October until two weeks ago it was probably the hardest in my life. But life is moving forward. I'm staying positive. I kind of forgot about what was going on in the past. Just focused on today and focused on the moment. Day-by-day."

Most NHLers would have taken issue with landing on waivers and being separated from their team for a week or two, away from game action and stuck working with development staff, but for Samsonov, he welcomed the reset and understands how valuable that time was for him.
"It helped for me for a couple of games to take a step back for moving forward. It was really important for me, being a really bad spot, especially mentally. But I'm good right now."

The Leafs' next game isn't until Wednesday, but after the way he battled in Seattle last night, it wouldn't be shocking to see Sammy right back in net against Winnipeg on Wednesday. After what he has endured and how he responded last night, he deserves it.
JANUARY 22   |   654 ANSWERS
Samsonov has a surprising reaction to the Leafs putting him on waivers and demoting him

Will Ilya Samsonov finish with a SV% over .900 this season?

Yes35954.9 %
No29545.1 %
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