Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Zach Hyman’s Axiological Decision

On June 18 on the podcast Lead Off with Mike Zigomanis and Scott MacArthur, Elliotte Friedman talked about why he believes the Toronto Maple Leafs will have a difficult time re-signing Zach Hyman. Although Friedman noted that he can never tell what might happen, he believed it would be “an enormous challenge” for Maple Leafs to bring back the hard-working Hyman. He also believed both sides were preparing for the possibility that a contract might not be able to be worked out.

The text of Friedman’s comments is included below:

Quoting Friedman from the show: “It is pretty clear to me that this is going to be an enormous challenge to bring him back. This is a year where he is a valued player. There is going to be a lot of interest. I just think it is going to force everybody to make a decision. I never like to say any outcome is certain because we still have time, and you never know what will happen. At the very least, what I can say is that Hyman and the Maple Leafs are preparing for the eventuality that this is not going to work out.

Related: Zach Hyman Won’t Be Leaving the Maple Leafs or Toronto

That is where we are today. You never know what can happen. You never know what can change. I have said situations are over before and they haven’t been, making me look like a huge doofus. I refuse to get into that as much as I possibly can. The best thing I can say [today] is that everybody is preparing for the possibility that it might not work out, and what is that going to mean?

I think there is a lot of interest in him.”

Why It’s an Axiological Decision for Hyman

Although Friedman is more of an insider than most, you can hear and read that he clearly isn’t sure what will happen with Hyman and the Maple Leafs. Nor do I.

I sincerely respect Friedman as a hockey analyst, but in this case I both disagree with him about what Hyman’s final decision will be and especially how to frame Hyman’s decision. From my perspective, it’s an axiological question.

Toronto Maple Leafs Zach Hyman
Toronto Maple Leafs left wing Zach Hyman (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Frank Gunn)

In philosophy, axiology is the study of value. It includes questions about what’s valuable in life and also considers how one might classify what things are valuable – including what’s more valuable or less valuable. As I’ve read the discussions about Hyman’s re-signing, from what I’ve seen so far, most hockey writers and fans seem to default to higher financial compensation as the most valuable reason Hyman will re-sign.

There are Considerations Other than Money

I believe Hyman might – in fact I believe he will – choose to re-sign with the Maple Leafs or not based on other value considerations. For Hyman and every other NHL player signing means making more decisions than how big one’s checking account will be. Hyman is also making a decision about what city he lives in, how far away he lives from home, who his teammates will be, and even where he leaves his family when he’s playing on the road.

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My point has always been that I believe Hyman will include these other values in his decision. Those values, I believe, will trump money in his internal axiological system. Again, I admit, I am no more able to predict Hyman’s decision or even with certainty what he values. I could be very wrong. Maybe Hyman is all about the money – or more likely most about the money. Maybe his wife and family agree with that decision.

However, in my research and writing about Hyman, I believe hockey “insiders” are mistaken when they think that Hyman values money more than family (for example) or selfish action (getting personally rich) more than team-motivated action (winning a Stanley Cup). For that reason, I think there’s a good chance he won’t necessarily take the best financial offer he receives.

The Importance of Family in Hyman’s Life

Let me offer examples. Hyman’s father Stuart and mother Vicky live in Toronto’s Forest Hill neighborhood. Hyman has four brothers Spencer, Oliver, Cooper, and Shane. He married his girlfriend Alannah Mozes on June 30, 2019, and their second wedding anniversary is coming up in less than two weeks. Zach and Alannah gave birth to a son, Theo, in December 2020. Theo is now seven months old.

Minnesota Wild Ryan Suter Toronto Maple Leafs Zach Hyman
Minnesota Wild Ryan Suter and Toronto Maple Leafs Zach Hyman (THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP /Hannah Foslien)

We know about Zach’s family; however, his wife Alannah also has strong family ties to Toronto. For example, to show the importance of her family, I cite Alannah Mozes’ engagement announcement in the “Beth Tzedec Bulletin” from April 2018 (volume 67, no. 3). [By the way, that even the synagogue bulletins are counted in volumes and numbers show their importance on the record.]

Here’s the congratulations announcement, “Alannah Mozes, daughter of Cheryl Herman & Rami Mozes, granddaughter of Alfred & Marilyn Herman and Marcel & the late Pepi Mozes, and Zachary Hyman, son of Vicky & Stuart Hyman, grandson of Steven & Suzan Hyman and Teven & Suzan Ibolya & the late Sandor Weisel, on their engagement.”

How Much Will Hyman Value What He Has in Toronto?

The Hyman-Mozes family is young, with grandparents and great-grandparents, and aunts and uncles. Theo, who isn’t yet walking, will be going to first grade by the time Hyman’s next contract ends and maybe another child or two will be on the way (Hyman comes from a large family). Zach attended United Synagogue Day School and graduated with honors from high school at the Community Hebrew Academy of Toronto.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Offseason Diary – Hyman, Spezza & the Marner-Matthews Trade Talk

So, if you’re Hyman, how much is it worth financially to uproot your young family and move away from this extended family. It means Theo won’t be able to sit on his grandfather’s knee like Zach did when he was young and which was the Genesis of Zach’s award-winning children’s books. His kids won’t be picked up after United Synagogue Day School by their grandparents. His large family won’t be celebrating the fun Jewish holiday of Purim together.

If you’re already making somewhere close to $5 million each year at home, would it be worth an extra million to uproot everyone and leave home? As well, hockey’s a job where the husband is on the road for stretches of time. Would you want to take your wife and one-year old away from both your families and then leave them alone while you’re on the road?

Zach Hyman, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner, John Tavares
Toronto Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman, Morgan Rielly, Mitch Marner, and John Tavares (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh)

I think for Hyman at least, there’s a good chance that family trumps money. Even given the axiological consideration of value, the phrase a “hometown discount” is a bit iffy because it still frames the highest value as money.

Hyman Must Make a Decision, and Money Isn’t Likely the Only Consideration

My point here is that Hyman must make an axiological decision based upon what he values. That also includes his wife and both of their large and extended families. To think it’s all about the numbers on the contract seems a bit short-sighted to me.

All this said, I could be very wrong. As I say, one reason to discredit my logic is, by my own admission, I only know Hyman from the outside. But from what I’ve seen, everything about him suggests that he’s smart, considerate of others, has a strong sense of family, and has considerable and deep ties to the Toronto community.

Related: Maple Leafs’ Zach Hyman Is Not Driven by Money

Is that enough to influence the bottom line? It seems to me right now that it’s shaping up to be either Toronto (and everything that means) or the money (and everything that means).

At my advanced age, I know what I would advise him to do. I wonder what his grandfather would tell him.

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