William Nylander: Mental Health Strategies for his Resurrection

I know what you are thinking! Here we go again!

We have another sports article about William Nylander in the 2018-2019 NHL season.

I can assure you that I will not beat a dead horse. Instead, I will make an attempt to resurrect his career (and earn his paycheck) by suggesting three mental health strategies.

Right now, Nylander has 6 goals and 20 assists for a total of 26 points in 53 regular season games with the Toronto Maple Leafs.

These are paltry returns for an NHL player that earns $10.2M in 2018-2019.

However, we have to understand how we got here.

In the summer and fall of 2018, William Nylander and the Toronto Maple Leafs struggled to agree on the terms and length of a new contract. Nylander finally suited up on December 6th, 2018.

Many were surprised at the duration of the standoff. If you know the family’s history, the standoff is less surprising.

Gare Joyceof Sportsnet wrote a significant piece that delved into the family’s history, most importantly the relatively selfish nature of William’s father, Micheal Nylander. Former players that remained anonymous explained that his father had a “me first” attitude and seemed singularly focused on his next contract.

The standoff with William Nylander was inevitable. 

Once a lucrative long-term contract was agreed upon, Nylander returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs but he has not been himself.

There is evidence of self-doubt, unsure thoughts, and passive behavior on the ice.

Questions have risen from the media and fans alike, which prompted his coach, Mike Babcock, and his teammate, Nazem Kadri, to come to his defence in public.

Nylander himself confirmed that he is in the greatest slump of his life.

There are mental health strategies that pull him out of his slump and get him producing once again.

One strategy involves raising his level of confidence to counter these thoughts of self-doubt. Self-doubt means that Nylander is ruminating about his missed scoring chances and he is not sure that he can score.

The second strategy involves understanding each play that needs to be made. Currently, Nylander appears unsure about each play and struggles to make the correct decision on the ice.

The third strategy involves becoming assertive in games rather than demonstrating passive behaviors that are reflecting of being unsure and lacking confidence.

It is imperative to add that Nylander got his lucrative contract. For most young players, they are focused on securing long-term contracts (Battochio, Schinke, & Stambulova, 2015). Once the contract is secured, they begin to focus on team success akin to the values of a coaching staff, management, and fanbase.

William Nylander must start to think about team success, meaning the Toronto Maple Leafs must win hockey games, and, once the playoffs start, they must compete feverishly for the Stanley Cup.

Given his family history and his singular focus on his contract, the shift in attention towards team success will not occur immediately.

With the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs about to commence, there is a chance for him to make this shift in attention. He can try to lead the team in scoring and compete well against the Boston Bruins. 

However, he was scoreless and a minus 2 against these Bruins in the regular season.

It doesn’t look promising for William Nylander to break through until next season.


Battochio, R. C., Stambulova, N., & Schinke, R. J. (2016). Stages and demands in the careers of Canadian National Hockey League players. Journal of sports sciences34(3), 278-288.

Joyce. Sportnet. Retrieved from https://www.sportsnet.ca/hockey/nhl/big-read-maple-leafs-risked-drafting-william-nylander/


By TheAHL – STP_20160131_357, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=66843140

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