I think we can all agree on a few things when it comes to Mitch Marner. We all want him to be a lifelong leaf, we all think he’s going to deserve every penny he signs for, and we all think he’s a good kid with a solid head on his shoulders.
The last part could be the most interesting of the bunch. Marner is a good kid and has been under the wing of NHL veteran and team father-figure Patrick Marleau which has only helped him become an even better pro. So, could one of the NHL’s biggest and best bromances play a role in the contract negotiations of the Leafs biggest RFA?
Best bromance? No question.
— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) May 27, 2019
Of course, this is all speculative, but why wouldn’t Marner want to ensure Marleau is properly taken care of. Matthews and Marner attached themselves to the NHL vet and were not only welcomed into his home but were also conditioned into mature NHLers.
I’m not suggesting that this “Marleau clause” is anything like a contract extension or post-career front office job. No, I think Marner would want to be ensured that his lockerroom dad wouldn’t be sent to Robidas Island or demoted to the Marlies.
The Leafs have done it before with Stephane Robidas, hence the name Robidas Island. For those who don’t know, the Leafs are rumored to have approached Robidas to sit out the final two season of his contract in exchange for a front office position. He is now the Director of Player Development.
— Christina Marleau (@c_marleau) May 22, 2019
Marner wants Marleau on the team. I’d be so adventurous to say that I think Marner needs Marleau on this team. Both he and Matthews have the spotlight of the hockey world on them constantly, if the presence of Marleau can help ease their lives in the Hockey Mecca of the world, what’s the harm?
It would have to be a handshake deal essentially, with Marner taking Dubas’ word for it and not demoting the future Hall of Famer to the Marlies or Growlers. Again, another reason why trust between players and management is so key (shout out to everyone saying Dubas should trade Nylander even though he told the player he wasn’t going to!).
As long as Babcock is behind the bench I think Marleau will have a role on the team. Is it going to be in the top-6? No, probably not, but as a mentor and veteran presence on a young and inexperienced bottom-6 Marleau’s effects transcend the scoresheet and could be pivotal in this, his last year with the team.