On Monday, Jonas Siegel published an in-depth profile on Maple Leafs star Mitch Marner in The Athletic. And in it emerged the makings of a new protagonist in Toronto’s undying quest to divvy up the pie in an equitable and uncompromising manner.
His name is Paul Marner.
Or to Mitch Marner, Dad.
With sensitivity at an all-time high in the fallout from the William Nylander negotiation — said to have been heavily impacted by his hockey-playing father, Michael Nylander — Paul’s candid remarks included in Siegel’s piece touched a nerve, naturally, with the many folks stressing the financial implications associated with the complicated contract negotiations that loom with both Marner and Auston Matthews.
In short, Paul said that it drives the Marners “nuts” when Mitch isn’t included into the debate surrounding who should be the Leafs’ next captain, bemoaned the fact that his son was overlooked in a draft class that included Connor McDavid, and provided a glimpse into future contract negotiations by noting that so long as his son has been in the lineup, he’s been the Leafs’ top scorer.
All this is to say, it seems the Marners are intent on seizing theirs.
And what’s theirs?
Perhaps more than the Leafs can afford to give them, honestly.
Yet, there isn’t nearly enough in the piece to suggest that Marner’s father is ready to price his son out of Toronto, or that the family will influence such a hard bargain that the franchise will be forced to bleed out talent elsewhere.
But maybe don’t expect the first hometown discount tabled in their direction to be gleefully accepted when contract negotiations roll around sometime before the puck drops on the 2019-20 season.
Though that really shouldn’t be a surprise given his agent’s preference to begin contract talks in earnest after Marner completes his third season — or has shined, fully, throughout his entry-level term.
Perhaps feeling a little heat in response to the article, Marner’s old man jumped on Leafs Lunch on TSN1050 in Toronto to clarify a few things first, and continue his campaign second.
Most notably, he said that the interview was actually conducted in the summer and that some of his comments were missing some important context.
Regarding the tidbit about Mitch not being considered for the Leafs’ captaincy, Paul said his remarks weren’t about campaigning for his son to wear a letter, but about him being taken seriously as a leader. He said that too often he’s seen his son’s stature and jovial personality confused for a player that doesn’t possess the necessary influencing qualities.
“I don’t think people really understand what a fiery competitor he is inside, and how much he wants to win,” he said.
And in regard to comments about McDavid dominating the discussion leading into the 2015 NHL Draft, Paul explained that all he meant to say was that the strength of that class has impacted the way Mitch — the fourth overall selection — is viewed, for the simple fact that he’s without the top-selection pedigree.
And he said it’s the same for other ultra-talented players like Mikko Rantanen and Zach Werenski, who in other classes would have been considered for the top overall selection.
Timely enough, adding to the Monday-morning fervour coming off a rough stretch of games for the Leafs, Kyle Dubas scheduled in a rare availability for the media.
In it he was asked if he was worried about the threat of an offer sheet for either Marner or Matthews, to which he said he wastes “zero percent” of his time agonizing over another team’s potential offer, and that the Maple Leafs are equipped to fend off any interested party.
It doesn’t appear he was asked if Paul registers on his personal stress scale.
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