Mitch Marner comments on the turbulence of playing in a market like Toronto, with the expectations so high

Published July 25, 2023 at 9:47

Sometimes as fans of the game, we forget that athletes are just normal people who put their pants on one leg at a time just like everyone else - while also honing exceptional talents in a specific area, in this case, hockey. The bigger the market, the more pressure that comes with it, but when you're making large sums of money, sympathy and empathy flies out the window.

Nevertheless, it's always an honour for players to play for prestigious and iconic teams and Mitch Marner understands the good, the bad, and the ugly of being apart of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Marner grew up in the Toronto area, so he knows everything that comes from not only being a player in the biggest market in the hockey world but also as a fan. Speaking with Mike Zeisberger at this weekend, Marner talked about what it's like playing for such a storied franchise with high expectations and "ruthless" supporters:

"I think you can see the excitement and how much enjoyment I have, whether it's having fun around the rink or just wearing that jersey. I know there are more lovers than haters out there. Far more. The haters are just louder. There's nothing you can really do about that. There are people who are friends to your face but say a lot of things behind it.

"For me, it's about staying away from all that stuff. I know our team loves each other. I know every guy in that locker room has a lot of trust in the guy beside him and the guy across from him. We've got a lot of joy and excitement in our locker room and that's what keeps you going." - Marner about the pressure and noise that comes with playing in a hockey hot bed like Toronto

The core of the Maple Leafs have been under the microscope for years and with only one series win to their name, the pressure mounts each and every year. Marner understands that and while the Leafs possess one of the most potent mix of forwards in the NHL, they just can't seem to figure it out in crunch time:

"Look, we want to take a lot of responsibility. Yeah, we definitely have a lot of weight on our shoulders, but it's weight that we've all wanted and have asked for pretty much with what we do on the ice.

At the same time, it's definitely a team sport, you need everyone out there, and we all know that we need to be better to achieve our ultimate goals. So there's nothing you can really do about it other than just kind of ignore the outside noise and know that everyone in that locker room appreciates each other." - Marner on the expectations of playing in Toronto

While their second round defeat to the Florida Panthers still stings, all the focus has since shifted to the contracts for pending UFAs in 2024, Auston Matthews and William Nylander.

The Leafs were reportedly not close with Nylander's ask - which has prompted incessant trade rumours - and it has been mentioned numerous times that Matthews will not sign before Nylander. In terms of how Marner feels about both of the aforementioned fellow Leafs stars, he revealed that he has taken more of a "friend first, teammate second" approach with them as they try to navigate the sometimes turbulent waters of the business side of the game.

For more on Marner, you can check out the full article provided in the link below:

July 25   |   372 answers
Mitch Marner comments on the turbulence of playing in a market like Toronto, with the expectations so high

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