The point of this random thought is that Toronto Maple Leafs’ newcomer Ryan O’Reilly seems refreshingly honest. And, that’s amazingly attractive for someone who writes about hockey. Sadly, and I understand why – really, I do – it doesn’t happen that often.

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: O’Reilly, Samsonov, Muzzin & Marner

I Appreciate My Readers – Thanks for Your Insights

I’ve never hidden that I also cover the Maple Leafs for two other hockey sites. My son’s site is NHL Trade Talk and I also write for The Hockey Writers (THW). One reader on the THW that I have come to appreciate is named “Andrew.” He’s knowledgeable, insightful, and offers interesting takes on topics because he has the ability to say and see interesting aspects of things.

In a recent post, he noted that he “rarely pays attention to between-period player interviews.” He, as I do, finds the comments too often trivial and generally less than authentic. I get it actually. I can imagine the trouble that a player can get into by saying the wrong thing or the “right thing” in the wrong way. The truth is that there are trolls out there who are looking to turn something perhaps innocent enough into a “deal.”

[As an aside, my father used to say that there are some people “out there” who could only be happy by making you as unhappy as they are. I believe see these kinds of people engaging in the posts that I write. Why some people take the time and energy to just say something less than edifying I do not know. Yet, that happens a ton.]

O’Reilly as Much as Admitted He’d Been Having a Poor Season

So, as Andrew noted, during interviews, players often don’t say much past “get pucks deep;” or, “keep pressuring;” or, “get to the net;” or, “We’ve got to play our game.” Pretty uninspired. As Andrew called it “blah blah blah.”

But, then Andrew noted what Ry O’Reilly said between periods after scoring two goals. He was asked what the biggest difference was. His answer was telling. It was a simple, “Well I finished.”

That brief, honest answer was both self-deprecating, added some humour, and showed some personal accountability. As Andrew noted, he didn’t give any standard answers about good reads or good feeds. He just noted that “he finished (his chances).”

Interestingly, in that response, his leadership showed up. He wasn’t overly media-coached by an organization. Instead, he just answered. To cite Anderew: “If this is an indication of his attitude and it can rub off on others – I like it!”

Related: Matthews & Keefe Weigh In on Maple Leafs Losing Muzzin

The Bottom Line Is Positive on the Maple Leafs as a Team

Like Andrew, I find Ryan O’Reilly’s interview refreshing and authentic. It just seems important to me that athletes are both genuine and accountable in their interviews. I do believe, like Andrew, that it impacts team morale and fan perception.

If O’Reilly’s honest response reflects his personality and leadership style, there is a good chance it could positively influence his team and contribute to a winning culture. I know that it’s tough to be in the spotlight. I’m also impressed to see athletes take ownership of their performances, regardless of the outcome, and it can set an example for others to do the same. [Who didn’t like Jack Campbell for that quality when he was a Maple Leafs’ goalie?]

Great to Fine a Leader (which O’Reilly Is) Who Speaks the Truth

Overall, it’s encouraging to see athletes who are not overly media coached and can speak honestly and directly, as it can lead to more meaningful and engaging interviews.

Is there a chance the team might be able to keep this guy – Ryan O’Reilly – past this season? Unless something comes up in his “play” or in his “way,” he seems like a keeper.


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