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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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