When Joe Thornton was found to start the 2020-21 NHL season at the Maple Leafs topline with Oston Matthews and Mitchmanner, the first reaction from many insiders and Leafsnation members said it wouldn’t last long. It was that. Some thought he was too late, while others suggested that this was just an experiment. However, Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Cooper says he intends to stick to it, despite early concerns.
Keef spoke with Tim and Sid on Monday, and when asked if he would keep the Thornton, Matthews, and Manner lines together, he immediately answered yes. But his explanation for why is a bit surprising. In fact, it has less to do with jumbo joe than people understand.
Keef pointed out that he had spoken to Thornton some time ago, expressing his desire to match him with Reefs and primarily the two best forwards. But he also said there was a conversation about the fractions they play as a trio, and Thornton doesn’t play all of them. He admitted that it was a situation they had to keep an eye on.
But besides “I want to see”, there were other reasons why I wanted to put Thornton where I was.
Carfoot, Mikeyev, Highman Line
Perhaps more intriguing to Keef than how Thornton fights Manner and Matthews is the third line of Alex Carfoot, Ilya Mikeyev, and Zack Heimann. This is the line where Kief says he has great hope.
Keef said: “How the team was placed here … I’m really excited to see the lines of Carfoot, Heimann and Mikeyev. I think it’s a really important line for us. I want to give you that opportunity. He added:
“To make that happen, I’m obviously taking Heyman and Mikeyev, who played in the top six, and using them on that line with Carfoot. I need someone to fill the spot.”
Keef said he would be very surprised if Reefs didn’t start the season as the line was set at the camp to see if he changed his mind during the camp. Regarding Thornton’s spot on the top line, Keef said, “It’s not just that one line, but how it affects other lineups.”
Reefs wants to maximize what Joe can bring
Focusing on his skills as a leader and veteran, Keef says Joe thinks of the game as Manner and Matthews do. “He has the elite brains, great energy, and great leadership to help our young stars.”
He also said he wasn’t too worried about Thornton’s speed because he knew how Manner and Matthews would skate and return to defense. They praise him very well.
– NHL Sports
Keef explains the unexpected motivation to keep Thornton on the top line of Reefs
https://nhltradetalk.com/toronto-maple-leafs-will-keep-thornton-on-top-line/?utm_source=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_campaign=toronto-maple-leafs-will-keep-thornton-on-top-line Keef explains the unexpected motivation to keep Thornton on the top line of Reefs