“I saw on Twitter that he was going to be named, so I texted him right away,” the Florida Panthers forward told NHL.com. “He’s a great guy and a great GM. He’s going to do a great job there.”
Of all the assurances Treliving has received regarding his new position, which was announced Early Wednesday afternoon, one Tkachuk was among the most intriguing, if not the most telling.
Just 12 days after the Maple Leafs announced their split from Kyle Dubas, the 53-year-old became the 18th GM in their history after serving the previous nine seasons in the same role with the Calgary Flames. During his tenure, the Flames went 362-265-73 and qualified for the Stanley Cup Playoffs in five of their nine seasons, winning three series in that span.
The Toronto gig was Dubas’ first as an NHL general manager, and team president Brendan Shanahan wanted to go in a different direction. To that end, Treliving ticked a number of boxes on Shanahan’s wish list.
First was the experience factor he wanted for the job. As noted, Treliving has that.
Second, there was the understanding of being in the aquarium of a Canadian city, where every transaction, every comment, every decision is sometimes dissected and prodded into criticism and guesswork. It’s true that Calgary doesn’t have the population, media hub, or fan base in terms of sheer numbers that Toronto does, but the passion and scrutiny can be just as great.
Tkachuk doesn’t feel it will be a problem for Treliving. In fact, he has high praise for his former general manager and said that the spotlight of overseeing the Maple Leafs in Canada’s largest city wouldn’t be overwhelming for him.
far from it.
“He did an unreal job in Calgary, so I know he’s going to be great there,” Tkachuk said. “Look, I can’t tell you what the specific differences are, but he’s one of the most respected people in the business.
“I know what the pressure is like playing in Canada. I can’t speak to what it’s like in terms of the specifics of his job, but he certainly handled it well in Calgary, which is obviously a Canadian market. I really think he’s going to be successful.”
What makes Tkachuk’s comments so remarkable is that he played a key role in one of Treliving’s defining moments in Calgary, which perhaps serves as a harbinger of what could happen in the coming weeks in Toronto. In fact, among all the highs and lows, ups and downs, thrills and spills that shaped his journey with the Flames, Tkachuk’s 10-month-old trading with the Panthers still resonates in those two markets.
Tkachuk was traded to Florida on July 22, 2022, for a term Jonathan Huberdeaudefense Mackenzie Weigherforward prospect Cole Schwendt and a first-round pick in the 2025 NHL Draft. The Flames filed a club-selected salary arbitration claim with Tkachuk, who told them he did not want to sign a long-term contract with Calgary and would prefer a change of scenery.
Faced with the prospect of ultimately losing Tkachuk for nothing, Treliving realized he needed to get something substantial in return. He did just that.
Huberdeau was chipping away at a career-high 115 points (30 goals, 85 assists) in 80 games in 2021-22, good enough to finish second in NHL scoring. Wegar scored 44 points (eight goals, 36 assists) in 80 regular season games that season in his role as a top-four defenseman with the Panthers.
When asked what he thought of the package Calgary received for him, Tkachuk smiled and said, “Very nice.”
Now, with him in charge in Toronto, Treliving faces similar decisions with regard to star players, no more than with Austin Mathews.
The forward, who won the Hart Award in 2021-22 as the NHL’s Most Valuable Player, has one year left on his contract with a no-movement clause that begins July 1. Audience concerns that the narrative may have changed with the departure of Dupas, who was on good terms with Matthews and his co-star, Judd Moldaver.
What do you do at the event? Would Treliving have to trade Matthews before that date if they couldn’t sign him to an extension by then, the same scenario that happened with Tkachuk?
As noted, Treliving is not unfamiliar with such a scene and has already made it to Matthews’ camp. And if you listen to Tkachuk, the former Flames GM is trying to create a positive environment for the players.
“I still have a great relationship with Trey and we still talk occasionally,” said Tkachuk. “Either he reaches out to you or I reach out to him. He’s one of the best and most respected coaches in hockey, and he could have gotten another job in hockey, pretty much anything he wanted to go, and that’s exciting.”
Treliving and the Flames mutually agreed to separate on April 17.
“I don’t really know what happened there in Calgary, but I do know that I loved my time with him,” Tkachuk said. “It was great for all the players and everyone.
And yeah, in my case, it was definitely the opposite of player vs. GM. There was no animosity. It was like we were working together to find a solution for both of them. I’m so grateful to have a guy like that and a guy like that. [Panthers GM] Bill Zito, who is incredible to deal with, as evidenced by the fact that we were able to figure it out.
“It’s clear that Bill and Trey have been amazing in my career so far and getting me to where I am now.”
Tkachuk and his current teammates are four wins away from the tournament. The Panthers face the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday (8 p.m. ET; TNT, TBS, truTV, CBC, SN, TVAS).
Simply put, Tkachuk was a Florida stud. He had 109 points (40 goals, 69 assists) in 79 regular season games and was named a Hart Trophy finalist. He followed that up with a magical playoff run that featured four game-winning goals (three in overtime), and finished second in the NHL with 21 points (nine goals, 12 assists) in 16 games.
There are revisionist historians who point to Huberdeau’s struggles in Calgary as an indication that Treliving was stripped into the trade. But he wasn’t expecting his production to drop 60 points from his last season in Florida. Nobody can be.
Now, he is facing a number of new challenges in Toronto. Matthews and forward mate William Nylander There is one year left on their respective contracts, and Mitchell Marner two. Then there’s the question of whether to bring back Coach Sheldon Keefe or go in a different direction.
With so much uncertainty surrounding the Treliving board, one thing is certain: Tkachuk is sure the former GM will handle it successfully.
He knew better than most.
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