After kicking up a storm with comments on Auston Matthews’ contract extension with the Toronto Maple Leafs — and more specifically how that agreement juxtaposes the on-hold negotiations involving his own client — Mitch Marner’s agent, Darren Ferris, did what he could the following morning to silence his noise.
No longer accusing the Maple Leafs of lowballing Marner or suggesting that no other player beyond his client is expected to take a hometown haircut, Ferris projected contrasting confidence about the shelved-until-summer negotiation and Marner’s future with the franchise — even suggesting that the two sides have made progress toward a number that will work for both parties.
“At the end of the day, Mitch will be with the Maple Leafs… and will be there for a long time,” Ferris told TSN 1050.
In his back-peddling, though, it’s possible Ferris over-extended himself. He said that it was “unfortunate” to see his comments from the Toronto Star piece published no more than a few hours after Matthews signed and that some of his words were “taken out of context” or either from “the summer.”
This immediately raised some red flags, given that many of the quotes were largely specific to the Matthews contract. (For example: “That’s probably the best contract in the National Hockey League. There’s no team-friendly discount there.”)
In the end it turns out no journalistic standards were threatened in the creation of the piece, as confirmed by the author itself:
To clarify, the quotes from Darren Ferris in this piece were from yesterday, not from the summer as Ferris mistakenly implied on @FirstUp1050. Just spoke to Ferris, who acknowledged he meant to say they "referred to" events from the summer. https://t.co/jeVY4CLmel
— Dave Feschuk (@dfeschuk) February 6, 2019
So, why did Ferris sing the different tune no less than a half day after trying to drive a wedge between Marner and the Leafs?
It would only be speculation, but perhaps Marner’s representation wants the key negotiation to be a little more knock-down, drag-out than the player that earned the contract actually wants. Maybe now the hope is that it’ll be valued in the Matthews ballpark for the simple reason that his play on the ice has dictated just that.
For their part, neither Marner or the Maple Leafs seem overly concerned about the direction of the negotiation. Marner reiterated on Wednesday morning that he will distance himself from the dialogue until he needs to be involved, while Mike Babcock dismissed the makings of any controversy, saying with a matter-of-fact shrug:
“Mitch is a lifetime Leaf.”
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