One of the most respected NHL coaches of all time backs Mitch Marner

Dean Chaudhry
June 5, 2024  (10:01)

Mitch Marner getting ready before a face-off.
Photo credit: John E. Sokolowksi - USA Today Sports

The jury might be out on Mitch Marner when it comes to the fanbase, but some of the more esteemed members of the NHL still believe he's an invaluable asset who should not be moved.

The rumour mill continues to spin when it comes to Marner and what the Toronto Maple Leafs are going to try and do this summer. He currently represents public enemy number one in the biggest market in the sport and it doesn't help that the Toronto Raptors and the Toronto Blue Jays aren't bringing any joy to the city either.
With another early exit and a lot of time between the end of the playoffs and the start of the new season, Marner's status will continue to be the dominant story.
In saying that, while most of the fan base is ready for change and more than okay with moving on from the highly skilled winger, there are several speed bumps that will hold things off. Recent reports have indicated that Marner and the Maple Leafs might play things out and enter the 2024-25 season without a solution. That might not be the worst scenario since it would be very hard to replace his on-ice intangibles and that's coming from some of the more esteemed members around the NHL, like the recently retired Rick Bowness, who is among the most well-respected coaches in NHL history.
The former Winnipeg Jets head coach joined The Leafs Nation's "Leafs Morning Take" for an interview and divulged into his beliefs about Marner and how he loves and respects his game. Due to the fact that Marner has become such a polarizing figure, Bowness was asked about internal conversations that happen between star players and organizations in order to find a happy medium:
"Listen, Mitch Marner is a real class skill and I have nothing but respect for the way that guy plays the game. You can't win without the goal scorers, you can't win without the skill, no matter what. You gotta have the goaltending, you gotta have the coaching, but you better have that skill to finish it off.

So, these are conversations that the coach can't be afraid of and the player has to be receptive to what is being told to him. If there's changes to the player's game that have to be made in order for him to help the team win more, then those conversations have to take place. If the coach is afraid of those conversations then that's one thing, if the player doesn't like what he's hearing and refuses to change, that's another thing, but if you're gonna win the Stanley Cup, those conversations have to happen. It's with every player, it's with every elite player, and you hope that they buy in."

Bowness then continued by explaining what has to happen to the team as a whole. Everyone has to buy-in, every player has to understand their role and their purpose, and while the skill players might be more important, it's a team game at the end of the day and all the blame can't be pinpointed to one or two players - in this case Marner:
"Team game has to come first, that's where the success comes from and then you have a total buy-in. Regardless of the skill level, regardless of the role, the status of every player there is important to the team. High-end skill guys mean more but do they have to make changes to their game? Usually they do in order to win. I mean, McDavid and Draisaitl, they've clearly made changes to their game to get them back in the Finals. So good for them, but Mitch Marner, I have nothing but respect for his skill-level, he's got a great hockey IQ, and again the Leafs will figure out what's best - a lot more than I know - but I just have a ton of respect for the man as a player."

With just one year remaining on his deal, it remains to be seen if the Maple Leafs want to bring him back. They have already extended Auston Matthews and William Nylander and while they might have the cap space and flexibility to get a deal done for Marner, is it something that makes sense for the present and the future?
For the time being, there will be a lot of speculation, but one thing that can not go unnoticed is how highly people within the NHL talk about and view Marner as a player and asset.
5 JUIN   |   465 ANSWERS
One of the most respected NHL coaches of all time backs Mitch Marner

Would it be better if the Maple Leafs kept Marner for the 2024-25 season?

Yes, he's one of their best offensive weapons30565.6 %
No, losing him for nothing is too big a gamble16034.4 %
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