Veteran defenseman T.J. Brodie takes a few laps before puck drop
Photo credit: USA Today Sports

The heartbreaking reason for one Leafs defenseman's struggles has been revealed

Published January 20, 2024 at 3:42 PM
BY CODY CRAIG

It has been a rough season so far for a defenseman who was once deemed to be an anchor for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With the team having a down year in terms of puck possession and defensive play, it has become somewhat of a reflection on veteran defenseman T.J. Brodie and the struggles he's faced in the first half of the season.

Bear in mind, Brodie was brought to Toronto to bring stability to the top pair alongside Morgan Rielly, allowing Rielly to take those risks offensively, jumping up in the play while giving him a steady stay at home veteran defenseman he could rely on. However, so far this season, Brodie has struggled to be Rielly's anchor on the right side and both the numbers and mistakes on ice have been noticeable for many including, Brodie.


There's much speculation right now as to why Brodie is struggling with his defensive play in his fourth season with the Leafs. Some blame age for his recent decline. Others point the finger at a lack of confidence and energy, something he doesn't seem to bring to the table much anymore. The truth, however, may be much more simple and may tug at your heartstrings.


This summer, Brodie lost his father, Jay, to cancer a couple of weeks before training camp. That alone can be devastating enough to impact a player's mental health. However, Brodie is also dealing with another troubling issue, as his wife continues to battle the auto-immune disease, multiple sclerosis.

Brodie's problems extend well beyond the ice right now and I'm sure anyone can understand that these players are also human beings. Fans have already begun showing their support and empathy towards Brodie and that support should continue throughout the rest of the 2023-24 campaign and beyond.

Regardless of the reasons that have led to Brodie having a down year defensively, his puck possession and expected goal rate numbers are down while he's averaging the most ice time in his Maple Leafs career. There are still glimpses of vintage Brodie and he has contributed to ten assists this season at about the mid-way mark of the season, so there are some positives.

In his past four seasons, Brodie only hit the 20 point plateau once, when he had 28 points in the 2021-2022 season. If he can continue to chip in offensively while turning around his defensive play, it could drastically help improve the team's chances of racking up points in the standings. Since his pairing receives the toughest of matchups on a nightly basis, though, the Leafs are hoping that the Brodie of old can make an appearance in the second half of the 2023-24 campaign.

POLL
January 20   |   932 answers
The heartbreaking reason for one Leafs defenseman's struggles has been revealed

Will T.J. Brodie get back to his old self in the second half of this season?

Yes, his confidence will come back25327.1 %
No, that's a lot for anyone to deal with40343.2 %
More than anything else, I feel for Brodie27629.6 %
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