The Toronto Maple Leafs announced via Twitter that Mitch Marner will miss a minimum of one month due to the ankle injury he suffered earlier this week. For a Maple Leafs team that’s already dealt with issue after issue, the news that Marner would miss as many as a dozen games adds more fuel to a fire that possibly leads to the Maple Leafs season going up in flames.
Marner will be re-evaluated by the team in a month’s time and likely placed on LTIR until then.
What a Mess for the Maple Leafs
Frankly, it’s amazing the Maple Leafs are fifth in the Eastern Conference when you consider everything that’s happened to that franchise this season. This statement is not meant to induce sympathy for the team the NHL seems to revolve around; but, you have to admit, this organization can’t seem to catch a break.
An off-season full of turmoil, part of the wounds in Toronto are self-inflicted. And, maybe, these numerous injuries are a reflection of how this team is built — skill over grit, offense over defense, and top-heavy versus deep. That said, who’d have imagined that with less than 20 games gone in the 2019-20 campaign, the Maple Leafs would be talking about injuries to Marner, John Tavares, Zach Hyman, not to mention, close calls to a number of other players like Auston Matthews?
Every team goes through injuries, but this season was billed as the Maple Leafs one window to make it count.
Time is Running Out
To say the window is closing so early in the year might be considered a drastic statement by many. But, at some point, the Maple Leafs are going to realize that this kind of bad luck is not sustainable. A few consecutive losses for a team that already feels fragile is all it will take for the organization to be sitting outside the postseason picture and looking in.
What’s worse is that, should the Maple Leafs not get in this year, how can they possibly manage next year when you consider almost every member of their backend will require contract extensions? Added to that is the fact that, should the Maple Leafs not make it, head coach Mike Babcock’s time in Toronto has to be over. No?
For Marner, a month out of action is nothing to sneeze at. The Maple Leafs are going to need to find a way to swim (or even to tread water) without him and that’s easier said than done. He’s easily the driver of the Maple Leafs’ offense, even if you consider Matthews and Tavares indispensable.
And, while all of this is happening, the organization needs to answer questions about the future of players like Jason Spezza. Does Marner’s injury merely prolong the inevitable? The longer the team needs to wait to move forward, the bigger the risk things will get worse before they get better.
Related: Elias Pettersson: “New & Improved” for 2019-20
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