The Toronto Maple Leafs recent agreement on a contract extension with William Nylander locked in another one of their star players for the foreseeable future.
The eight-year commitment did not come without significant financial investment and detractors of the deal will argue that the Toronto Maple Leafs overpaid or, once again, were unable to convince a star player to take a "hometown discount".
Looking beyond the numbers and the salary cap ramifications, the Leafs should be applauded for looking after one of their own.
The team's continued faith in its core players is polarizing and questioned by some, but there are too many positives that shouldn't be overlooked.
The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Be Commended For Paying Star Players
Flashback to the beginning of Brendan Shanahan's tenure as president and the Leafs made an organizational decision to tear down the team and build through the draft.
Multiple downtrodden seasons brought the Leafs high draft picks and hope for the future. Morgan Rielly was drafted before Shanahan arrived, and then William Nylander, Mitch Marner, and Auston Matthews arrived in subsequent drafts.
A little bit of lottery fortune helped land Matthews, but the Leafs nailed their picks in each of those drafts. It wasn't long until the team climbed the standings and built a perennial playoff team.
While the title drought remains and success in the Stanley Cup playoffs has been fleeting, the Leafs have drafted and developed those aforementioned players and demonstrated loyalty towards them.
Yes, they have paid them handsomely and the top-heavy roster has yet to lead to the ultimate success, but the Leafs have built something sustainable.
Fans of any professional sports organization yearn for a consistent championship-contending team. The Leafs have done that.
In addition, they have shown they will look after their players. Perform up to the expected standard and you will get rewarded.
It is easy to be fickle and criticize the fact this group of players and management is still looking for a Stanley Cup, but for decades this organization was nowhere close to being a legitimate contender.
There were unexpected final-four runs from underdog teams led by names such as Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Mats Sundin, Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph, and Ed Belfour. As fun and breathtaking as they were, none of those teams were considered a serious threat to a title.
The Leafs dedication to their core of players also has a pre-free agency feel to it. For decades past, fans could identify with a team and their star players.
Player movement in modern-day sports has become the norm. Free agency and hard salary caps result in roster volatility.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, rightly or wrongly, have made it possible for their young fans to purchase a Matthews, Nylander, Marner (likely to be extended next year), and Rielly jersey without worrying about them leaving town.
It has a refreshing, old-school feel and should be praised.