“Go to Toronto,” they said. “The increased visibility will allow you to cash in on your next deal,” they said.
And hey, “they” weren’t entirely wrong. That is one of the potential outcomes after playing in Toronto, thanks to the swell in media scrutiny.
Ilya Mikheyev came to Toronto and cashed out. Michael Bunting brought his casino chips to the same window and pocketed his money. And even a guy like Noel Acciari – who’s turning 32 in December and played 34 total games as a Leaf with seven points – parlayed some trustworthy systems play and a few big hits into his biggest NHL contract.
On the other hand, if you go to Toronto and struggle, well…it can become “not great” pretty fast too. Nick Ritchie started with Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner two seasons ago and 33 games later was a Coyote in Arizona.
As a pro athlete, you’re far less likely to consider the potential negative outcomes of an opportunity, because typically you’ve hit the high marks throughout your life to end up where you’re at.
So if you’re John Klingberg, Max Domi, or Tyler Bertuzzi, you saw those former Leafs get their money and thought “hey why can’t I do the same?” Early on here, it’s possible that with clearer vision they’re seeing the other potential outcomes on the horizon as well.