Yes, you’re reading that correctly. The negotiations between Marner and the Leafs are still at a point where the sides are not close, and the insistence from Marner’s agent that he is paid as much as Auston Matthews is causing the Leafs to delay naming their captain, according to multiple reports.
Making the radio rounds this morning, James Mirtle of The Athletic checked in to TSN1050 to say as much when asked about whether or not the Leafs will put the ‘C’ on someone’s jersey before opening night.
I think they’re going to name Auston Matthews captain. I wonder if (with) the Marner situation, if they’re worried about the optics of that or not. That’s the only hang-up. If that wasn’t going on I’d say they would name Auston Matthews captain.
And that more or less backs up what Sportsnet insider Chris Johnston relayed last night when asked the same thing.
I believe it’s Auston Matthews… but I think the timing of that is tricky, especially with Marner’s situation unresolved. Do they want to make that announcement before Mitch Marner signs? That might complicate some of the discussions being had on the side. So I think it’s a little bit of a delicate issue. It’s one that I don’t think Kyle Dubas enjoys too much…but to me this is the right time for the Leafs to have a captain.
It’s bizarre that things have gotten to this point, and you can sense within the fanbase and the organization itself that a level of frustration is settling in on how this sort of drama is unfolding. But the reports of Marner seeking the same contract as Matthews has been out there since it was signed. Hell, Marner’s agent Darren Ferris had to go on a damage control tour after slamming Matthews and the Leafs publicly when they put pen to paper.
So if all that’s true, and this whole thing really has always been about the Marner camp feeling jilted by the Leafs, it’s not hard to imagine them trying their hardest to tightrope this as a delicate situation. Also, in case you needed reminding, don’t expect Mitch Marner to be at Leafs camp when it opens this weekend.