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Does Maple Leafs Marner Value Big Payday Over Stanley Cup?

A recent interview with the Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner seems to suggest that he favored big contracts over team success. Is that true?

On one hand, the Toronto Maple Leafs Mitch Marner is a solid citizen who cares about the city of Toronto. On the other hand, is there something problematic about the way he thinks about his friends and teammates that are a cause for Maple Leafs’ fans to be concerned?

Related: Maple Leafs News & Rumors: Cup Odds, Nylander & Marner

The 2023 Marner Assist Foundation Revealed Some Interesting Issues

The 2023 Marner Assist Foundation, which is led by Marner, hosted its fifth annual Marner All-Star Invitational. It was a two-day hockey experience on Thursday and Friday (July 13th and 14th). The goal was to raise funds for children and youth in under-resourced communities. So give it to Marner for stepping up to help.

Mitch Marner Upper Deck Maple Leafs
Mitch Marner Upper Deck Maple Leafs

However, during an interview at the event, Marner revealed some interesting things. During the interview, Marner shared his thoughts about the contract negotiations of both Auston Matthews and William Nylander and their potential impact on the team’s success.

Marner’s Rooting for Big Contracts for Matthews and Nylander

During the interview, Marner seemed to prioritize his friends getting high-paying contracts over helping the team win during the postseason. In fact, he seemed to hope aloud that his teammates got great contracts. The problem there is that the salary cap is finite. If Matthews and Nylander get the funds, someone lower on the food chain cannot.

Perhaps too much was read in his comments. But, a number of hockey pundits believed that they revealed Marner was being selfish. Their thoughts were that, if Matthews and Nylander signed lucrative contract extensions this offseason, that he’d also be setting himself up for a larger contract next offseason when he, too, could go for an extension.

You can listen to these hockey commentators on the Homestand Show discuss the Marner interview below.

Are Marner’s Contract Priorities a Cause for Concern?

During the Marner Assist Foundation event, Marner shared his views about fellow players Nylander and Matthews. He suggested that he would prioritize their contractual needs over the team’s interests.

Obviously, his comments got jumped on by fans and commentators. In truth, perhaps these people are simply making too much of the comments. However, if these critics are correct, does it signal an unsettling trend within the team?

Is the “Buddy Buddy” Mentality an Issue?

According to the Homestand Show commentators, Marner’s comments suggest a troubling “buddy-buddy” mentality within the organization. Their perception indicates that some players prioritize personal relationships over the team’s collective goal of winning a championship.

The Homestand Show commentators note that, although camaraderie in the locker room is essential, a balance must be found between personal connections and on-ice performance. They are right in that thought.

Related: Maple Leafs Quick Hits: Reaves, Domi, Bertuzzi & Samsonov

Winning vs. Paying Big Contracts

The central issue surrounding Marner’s comments is the difficulty of building and maintaining a winning team at the same time as the organization is being “negotiated” into a corner by its star players. Logic suggests that a team cannot have a small core of highly paid players at the same time as they build a Stanley Cup-winning team.

The salary-cap space is finite and has an upper limit. If one player makes a ton of money, another player cannot.

Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs
Auston Matthews Mitch Marner Maple Leafs

In fact, the commentators on the Homestand Show cynically believe that Marner is thinking of himself. In other words, if these two friends and teammates get a big contract he, too, will get a big contract. As I noted, the pressures of building a highly-paid team AND winning the Stanley Cup might be two different things.

Funneling big salaries to individual players WILL logically hinder a team’s ability to strengthen other areas and build a well-rounded roster.

Is Marner’s Stance a Concern?

The implications of Marner’s remarks are interesting. Obviously, it would seem essential that a balance exists between paying the best players the most money and building a competitive team. Building a team around – as I heard it called recently – “studs” and “duds,” is tough. Management needs to make tough decisions about contract negotiations and the way a roster is built.

It would seem that the team’s ability to find players willing to make salary concessions for the good of the team would be a positive. Clearly, if those commentators on the Homestand Show are correct, Marner is not one of those players.

If they are correct, is it also true that Marner’s desire for big paycheque is a reason the team is continually failing during the postseason play? That’s a pretty critical accusation.

Related: What Does Tavares Think about the Maple Leafs Moving Forward?



  1. Jon Harding

    July 15, 2023 at 6:07 am

    I can’t argue for or against your point here OP, other than to say keep going! Trying to get at and make sense of the hockey culture and culture within the Leafs is worthwhile. We, as fans, are entitled to have the curtains pulled back so we can better understand what contributes to the failure in Toronto. I read something recently about Tottenham Hotspur in the English Premier League being a team that is often good but never great and how its fans have given the team far more over the last many years than what the team has given them. The social, or emotional contract of sports, if you will. In my mind this is a constant with the Leafs and greed is a part of it. Over the last 56 years, fans have given Toronto far more than Toronto has given its fans. The tone of Marner’s comments/attitude may, or may not, personify this.

  2. afp1961

    July 15, 2023 at 7:29 am

    As for MM, he has been quoted more than once, whether it be at dressing room clear outs, media day events or his own foundation forum for most of us to get a good read on his opinions. I stand by my assertions from day one about Mitch. Great regular season player. Great student of the game. However he and his daddy agent have always placed themselves first in all aspects, challenging and being outspoken about Bacock, his contract demands and insisting on that silly alternate “A” rotation. Now this latest quote has been interpreted by those who get paid the big bucks to decipher every letter and the petulant Mitch has shown himself again. I agree with your article’s inference. “Buddy over team” attitude was clear and it is as self serving (no surprise) as it gets.

    Have said it for years, Marner will not lead this team to glory. More and more, even the Dubasites, are starting to see this after 5 years of invisible Mitch in the playoffs. Unfortunately his NMC has now kicked in (thank you Dubas) and the target on Willie’s back just continues to grow. If Willie does get subsequently traded due to poor cap mgmt and directly due to a 2M+ overspend on Marner, how will Mitch look upon his “Buddy over Team” philopsphy then….?

  3. Pingback: William Nylander Trade Talk: The Weight of an Unsigned Season

  4. gfinale

    July 15, 2023 at 10:00 am

    As I’ve been saying for years, I believe Nylander and Marner are after every dime they can get. The rest is easy talk and cosmetics. I hit you with one more. I believe Dubas is the same way, it’s all about his BFFs. It has been obvious since before Nylander and Marner signed their last contracts that they needed to go badly. Nylander should have sat that entire 1st year as a message to all. This is what we’ve had and get instead.

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