T.J. Brodie was a healthy scratch for the first time this season last night
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Report uncovers the real reason behind Keefe scratching T.J. Brodie

Published March 21, 2024 at 10:56

Hours before puck drop against the Washington Capitals, Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe shocked Leaf fans when it was revealed that T.J. Brodie was going to be a healthy scratch in favour of Conor Timmins. Following the game, Keefe revealed that it was a 'mental day' for Brodie, but the team did not miss a beat without him.

This morning on TSN's 'First Up', analyst and former NHLer Mike Johnson revealed the reason why he believes Brodie was a scratch.

"He has been in grind it mode for quite some time this year. The last two seasons, Toronto has been so good in the regular season that not a lot has gone wrong and there has not been a lot for Sheldon Keefe to be antsy about... It was one of the best teams in the league, but that's not been the case [this year]... It hasn't been easy. It hasn't been without moments of frustration and wondering how it's going to work. I think that's what the T.J. Brodie scratching was all about. He's trying to find something that works. Brodie, for years, has been the one guy you would not think about scratching on the back end. You just plug him in and play, but that hasn't been the case this year. He just hasn't been as efficient this year... It speaks to the situation and the grind of what Keefe is feeling and the uncertainty about what is going to happen down the stretch. I still don't think he knows who is going to play with who on the back end. If the playoffs started tomorrow, I don't think he knows, even if healthy, who would be in the lineup."

The blueline is something Keefe has been experimenting with the entire season, but has often made questionable decisions with. Every coach has their 'guy' or 'guys' that play regardless, and while fans had been begging Keefe to scratch Brodie for some time, he continued to play him. It's no secret Brodie has struggled this season and has dealt with a handful of personal things off of the ice leading up to this season, but Keefe should have recognized much earlier that it may have been best to reduce the expectations and role for Brodie.

With eight healthy NHL defenseman - nine when Mark Giordano returns - and the Leafs firmly in a playoff spot, it would not be surprising to see Brodie miss a few more games down the stretch. However, if the team continues to play better without him, Leaf fans will have to hope that Keefe is able to recognize that and keep him out of the lineup as long as needed, even if it means Brodie sitting in the playoffs.

March 21   |   546 answers
Report uncovers the real reason behind Keefe scratching T.J. Brodie

Will Brodie be back in the lineup next game?

Yes18533.9 %
No36166.1 %
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