Quick Shifts: Why Mark Messier sees ‘massive growth’ with Maple Leafs

A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep. It was not a distinct kicking motion.

1. Mark Messier knows.

The six-time Stanley Cup champ believes the Toronto Maple Leafs “took a massive step forward” this season, despite their sixth consecutive one-and-done exit from the playoffs.

During a great appearance on The Fan Morning Show Thursday, Messier said past incarnations of the Maple Leafs were simply not committed to playing the brand of hockey needed to win in spring.

He used the Tampa Bay Lightning’s four-game closeout of the Florida Panthers as a prime example of that dedication: the details in execution, the blocking of shots, the egoless five-man support, the clutch saves and the unrattled mindset.

“Without that, you’re not going to win a Stanley Cup. You’re not going to back into a Stanley Cup. You’re not going to win a Stanley Cup because it’s your turn. You earn the Stanley Cup — that’s the only way you win,” Messier drilled home.

“When I watched the Leafs this year, I noticed a remarkable difference in the attitude and the body language of (Mitch) Marner, of (Auston) Matthews, of (Morgan) Rielly. They were playing at a much more intense pace than they had in the other (series). It meant more. The sting hurt them more. The loss hurt them more. Those are all things that you hope…

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