Mitch Marner To the NYR? Something’s Gotta Give…

Jul 4, 2024

The Toronto Maple Leafs are at a crossroads, and it’s time to make tough decisions. With Craig Berube taking the helm as the new head coach, the team needs players who can thrive under his no-nonsense, hard-nosed style. Unfortunately, that might mean saying goodbye to Mitch Marner.

Berube’s Tough Love Approach

Craig Berube, the Leafs’ 32nd head coach, brings a wealth of experience and a Stanley Cup ring to Toronto[4]. Known for his fiery demeanor and relentless pursuit of accountability, Berube represents a significant shift from Sheldon Keefe’s more measured approach. As K n Hitchcock, one of Berube’s mentors, put it:

“His greatest strength is he can grab the team back quickly. He won’t let the team’s principles and mechanics slide. He’s relentless in getting the team to play the right way.”

Marner’s world-famous bench sulking won’t cut it with Berube, and I’m fairly certain Nylander and Matthews have had enough of it.

Marner: A Square Peg in a Round Hole?

While Mitch Marner is undeniably talented, having just come off a career-high 99-point season, there are concerns about how he’ll fit into Berube’s system. Berube’s teams are known for their heavy forechecking and grinding style of play. Can Marner, with his finesse-based game, adapt to this new reality? He’s still too small. He’ll never be physical. Mitch is an incredible talent, but the playoffs require a different player for $12m in cap space. And it ain’t him.

Moreover, there’s a perception that Marner might not have the mental toughness to withstand Berube’s demanding coaching style. As one hockey pundit colorfully said, “Marner won’t last a month under Berube’s reign of terror!”

The Trade Conundrum

Trading Marner isn’t as simple as it sounds. His no-movement clause for the 2024-25 season[6] limits the Leafs’ options. However, if they can find a willing trade partner and convince Marner to waive his clause, it could be a win-win for all parties involved.

What the Leafs Need

The Leafs should be looking for players who embody the Berube ethos:

1. Grit and Toughness: Players who aren’t afraid to throw their weight around and play a physical game.

2. Mental  Fortitude: Individuals who can handle criticism and use it as motivation rather than wilting under pressure. According to Sheldon Keefe and his teammates, Mitch isn’t that guy.

3. Team-first Mentality: Athletes who prioritize team success over individual accolades.

4. Versatility: Players who can adapt to different roles and playing styles as needed.

Potential Trade Targets

While specific trade options are limited due to Marner’s contract situation, the Leafs should be eyeing players known for their toughness and adaptability. Think Brady Tkachuk or Brayden Schenn—players who can contribute offensively while bringing a physical edge to their game.

Rumors around a Trouba/Lafreniere for Marner trade are getting louder, too. Astute Leaf fans would pull that trigger in a second.

A Necessary Evil

Trading Mitch Marner would undoubtedly be a controversial move. He’s a hometown hero and a fan favorite. However, tough decisions must be made if the Leafs are serious about changing their culture and finally breaking through in the playoffs.

We get too wrapped up in hometown hero bullshit in Toronto. Tavar s. Marner. They’re incredible players, but I’d trade both in a Hot Toronto minute if it made sense. Bleating from the fan base to the opposite is just a hometown response.

As the saying goes, “If you want something you’ve never had, you must be willing to do something you’ve never done.” For the Leafs, that might mean parting ways with Marner to build a team that can withstand the rigors of Berube’s demanding system and the grueling NHL playoffs.

It’s a gamble that could finally bring Lord Stanley’s Cup back to Toronto after decades of disappointment. And isn’t that worth the risk?

When you get the same result from the same core for 7 solid years – you gotta do something…

Dean Blundell

Dean Blundell is a Canadian radio personality. Best known as a longtime morning host on CFNY-FM (The Edge) in Toronto, Ontario. In 2015 he was named the new morning host on sports radio station CJCL (Sportsnet 590 The Fan). Dean started his career in radio in 2001 and for nearly 20 years been entertaining the radio audience. Dean’s newest venture is the launch of his site and podcast which is gaining tremendous momentum across North America.

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