Hall-of-Famer gives Mitch Marner's critics a reality check

Dean Chaudhry
May 15, 2024  (4:51 PM)

Mitch Marner flipping pucks to fans during the All-Star Weekend.
Photo credit: Sam Navarro - USA Today Sports

On Wednesday, Hall of Famer Adam Oates sounded off on fans amid heavy criticism of Maple Leafs superstar Mitch Marner, whom he believes is being treated unfairly.

It's a very rare occurrence to see anyone in the hockey world taking Marner's side right now. However, Oates went on the Cam & Strick podcast and laid out a passionate speech, detailing why the media and fans should back off of Marner a little bit:
"Like when Nylander yelled at him. Well, Nylander, first of all you don't play against everybody's best. You play against everybody's second best, let's get that straight. Number two, he was mad at Matthews for a bad turnover at the blue line. That's what he's mad at and he's also mad and he threw his gloves. Why? Because he knows tomorrow in the paper, they're gonna blame him.

Like the power play was 1 for 20. If they were 5 for 20, they'd still be playing right now. And he'd have three more points, four more points, they wouldn't be complaining right now, would they? So, therefore, now you look at the power play. Of course. That's 2 units, 10 guys, and 1 coach, right? And the head coach. It's never one guy and I feel bad for [Marner] because he's in that market.

That makes it very difficult and then the game-winning goal, Pastrnak's goal, they're blaming him and it's like, if anybody knows anything about hockey, they were in a neutral zone regroup. So F1 changed and he jumped over for F1, Pastrnak's not his responsibility at all."

It's hard not to play pin the tail on the donkey with Marner because there are too many situations working against him. For starters, the Maple Leafs have extended Auston Matthews and William Nylander, so any talks about breaking up the core will not involve that duo. They're now solidified.
Secondly, trading John Tavares is almost an impossibility because of his age, his decline in play, and the fact that his cap hit is slightly higher than Marner's.
Third, and most importantly, the relationship between player and city - as well as player and media - has to have soured over the last few years and a breakup is not only required for personal reasons but for financial reasons as well. The Leafs cannot afford to bring back the same group of players for another season nor can they afford to extend Marner beyond 2024-25.
Oates does make a lot of good points. The power play going 1 for 20 was the nail in the coffin in a series that was decided in 7 games, and in overtime to boot. In saying that, Marner played in every game and they needed him to step up to the mark with Nylander and Matthews injured or ill. That did not happen and in a city like Toronto, where the lights are always brighter, someone has to carry the blame. Unfortunately it's a very good young player in Mitch Marner.
MAY 15   |   497 ANSWERS
Hall-of-Famer gives Mitch Marner's critics a reality check

When should the Maple Leafs look to move on from Marner?

At or during the NHL Draft10420.9 %
Before free agency7815.7 %
Wait for the best offer17334.8 %
Keep him around14228.6 %
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