If you have been following Centre of Leafs Nation on Twitter, it should have come as no surprise that Mitch Marner, Darren Farris and company played the “Europe Card” in this dragged out negotiation process.
As I had predicted months ago for this card to have ultimate impact it had to come just before camp when Leafs Nation’s eyes are back onto hockey with training camp right around the corner. What I don’t think the Marner camp calculated was the changing tide within the fan base with more fans becoming indifferent/angry with this process.
We as a fan base have seen a player not negotiate for a year, then came the multiple media appearances by Farris & Paul Marner, then the offer-sheet threats and now the news of Mitch being “open” to playing with the Zurich Lions. With each misstep, the Marner camp has seen more and more fans who were once sympathetic and supportive erode away.
No one believed the offer-sheet rumours, especially when some reports had the contracts being offered as high as $13 million per year so the European option is even more transparent and has no teeth when it comes to Kyle Dubas and the Maple Leafs front office.
I would have loved to be a fly on the wall in the Leafs Management boardroom when this news broke, GM Dubas now has all the power in the negotiations so laughter must have broken out when the tweets started to break.
Ferris now has no cards to play, if he is willing to have a player like Mitch sit all year than that too comes at the detriment of his client. There will be no additional money coming Mitch’s way next season, any fan that has remained in their corner would have turned as well, Mitch would have essentially turned down $10 million a year to squeeze the team for additional money/term.
With all this said, I am more confident than ever that Mitch will be ready to play to start the season, and the end result of his contract will probably fall in the $9-10 million dollar range once everything is said and done. What may linger for a bit is the stench of this drama filled negotiations that at the end of the day will be for naught. With his reputation tarnished to some extent.
So let’s relax, Mitch isn’t going anywhere other than on the line with John Tavares. In a couple more weeks, we can all get talking about the games on the ice and not the ones being played out in the boardrooms and in the media.