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Mitch Marner (Perhaps Accidentally) Insults Maple Leafs Non-Stars

Did Mitch Marner shift responsibility for the lack of Maple Leafs’ playoff success onto the non-stars of the team? If so, why?

Sometimes, things don’t come out as intended. When a player says one thing but doesn’t necessarily mean it in the way that it was taken by the press or fan base that heard it, the backlash can be painful. In Toronto, it’s especially problematic because their fan base, as passionate as they are, can be quite toxic, even to the biggest stars on the team. It’s a situation Mitch Marner now potentially faces as blowback from a comment he made that seemed to be said with a positive tone, but came out as a passive-aggressive, backhanded dig at the members of the team who are not in the “core four”.

For a few years now, the narrative surrounding the Maple Leafs is that they haven’t won and the stars on the team haven’t delivered when the franchise needs it most. A typically strong regular season club, this group of players –featuring Marner, Auston Matthews, William Nylander and John Tavares — hasn’t been able to secure more than a single-round victory in any of the post-seasons in which they’ve appeared. It’s not good enough, yet the team has seemingly decided to roll it back with the same core for the upcoming season.

Related: Ryan O’Reilly Reveals Big Factor In Choice to Leave Maple Leafs

It would be one thing if those stars simply said they haven’t been good enough. Fans might still not like going back to the same well again, but at least those top-tier, highly-compensate stars would be taking responsibility. That’s not the approach Marner took.

As pointed out by The Steve Dangle Podcast (SDPN), Marner spoke to the media and said the following:

“Brad [Treliving] came in and defended us all, really, and our team. It meant a lot for us that he came in and did that. It’s not just four guys on our team, it’s a full team effort every single night. It’s not the narrative a lot of times, but we all know we gotta be better and that’s what we’re excited to do when we get the season going.”

Now, one should probably assume that Marner was simply trying to say that the whole team needs to come together and, as a unit, play up the standards set for this team if they want to be successful. Really, that’s not that bad a thing to say. Instead, what it sounded like he was saying was that some blame needs to go to the non-stars on the team because not everything can be thrown at the “core four.” At least, that’s how the SDPN crew took it.

It sounds a lot like he’s shifting responsibility from himself and the higher-paid stars on the roster and asking, ‘Why are you just blaming us?’ It’s not a good look, especially when the team has put some much faith in those four being the drivers on the team and it is their responsibility to not only produce on par with their compensation but bring the rest of the roster up.

What Was Marner Trying to Say?

What did you hear when you listened to those comments? Is this a player that doesn’t want to be blamed for the continued lack of success and is happy enough to throw others under the bus? Or, was this someone who meant one thing and it kind of came out a little funny, where the Leafs fan base is reading way too much into it? It is possible this is all much ado about nothing.

In a recent interview, Ryan O’Reilly did acknowledge that playing in Toronto is tough because of the spotlight and that was one of the reasons he chose to leave in free agency. Every word is dissected and every play scrutinized.

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  2. Greg Morris

    July 18, 2023 at 12:02 pm

    That’s a huge stretch. Marner didn’t insult anyone.

    • NHL Trade Talk

      July 18, 2023 at 2:12 pm

      I didn’t say he did. I asked the question as to what people might have heard and I pointed out that the crew from the SDPN show didn’t like the way that comment came out and you could see their frustration at the way the stars consistently say the same thing over and over and shift the blame for repeated playoff failures.

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