Leafs winger Tyler Bertuzzi celebrates with Morgan Rielly and Calle Jarnkrok
Photo credit: NHL

Free agent coach Joel Quenneville chimes in on the struggles of John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi

Published February 24, 2024 at 9:27

With Mitch Marner collecting 2 points in Thursday night's victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, the Toronto Maple Leafs have become the first team in 2023-24 to have 3 players break through the 70-point threshold in the NHL. Yet, even with Marner, Auston Matthews, and William Nylander producing beyond expectations, the club is still searching for answers offensively from John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi.

It has been an uncharacteristically quiet season for both forwards as they are trending towards career-lows across the board. Tavares has put up 3 points in his last 2 games but has only contributed with 17 goals and 43 points through 54 games this season - well below his point per game pace as a Leaf. As for Bertuzzi, he has just 7 goals and 23 points in 55 games, including a current stretch of 23 games where he has just 1 goal and 8 assists.

Former Chicago Blackhawks and Florida Panthers head coach Joel Quenneville had some interesting insight on the Maple Leafs' duo and how the club should approach the situation moving forward:

On Tavares:

"That's a hard conversation to have. I think John has had a tremendous career...I think there's a understanding with him going back to Toronto and playing for the Leafs and he understands where they're at as a team. And it's the win now mode and you do everything you can to help the team in that situation and you find a way to fit in and I think he has a really good understanding of what their needs are and anything to stay positive internally within his own game. At the same time I think he knows he can be a valuable contributor by being positive around the team and adding everything he can maybe not in a bigger way but in his own way."

With Bertuzzi it's a little different because Quenneville believes that to regain his confidence and his mojo, the Maple Leafs should consider doing something drastic like benching him:

"You can't pluck confidence out of the air and give it to someone. There's going to be moments in a game where he has a good shift and maybe you come back with him real quickly and you reward him with a power play shift or an extra shift late in the period when they are going well. When they aren't going well they might miss some shifts you might take them out of the lineup. Players of that calibre, its tough to do that but at the same time there are ways of getting their attention where we have to do things differently. We can't keep going on like this and expect things to change unless we try different things. I think being open with the player and saying we need to try everything to get you back on the right track. Let's work together and find a solution."

It's a tough situation that the Maple Leafs have found themselves in, but they desperately need more players chipping in alongside Matthews, Marner, and Nylander. In recent games, we've seen Bobby McMann and Max Domi coming alive. Only time will tell if Tavares and Bertuzzi can chip in as more than just secondary options, but if their struggles continue, Sheldon Keefe might have to take matters into his own hands and try something drastic to get the ball rolling.
February 24   |   617 answers
Free agent coach Joel Quenneville chimes in on the struggles of John Tavares and Tyler Bertuzzi

Should the Leafs bring in Joel Quenneville to replace Sheldon Keefe, if Bettman allows the veteran coach to return to the NHL?

Definitely29247.3 %
No, we don't need Q21434.7 %
There are better options than Q11118 %
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