Photo Credit: John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

Now is not the time to move on from Mitch Marner

Another year, another first round elimination for the Toronto Maple Leafs, technically.

Every season, this team surprises us. This year, it was the highs of a three-goal comeback against the Columbus Blue Jackets to the lows of losing to David Ayres, who practices with the Maple Leafs and was also a zamboni driver — it was all weird.

Don’t forget that we’re still going through a pandemic, which there won’t likely be a vaccine for until early January, according to science.

Beyond all of that though, the Maple Leafs, again, were ousted out of the first round for the fourth straight year, which is disappointing.

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“It’s hard to put it all into words.” Said Morgan Rielly after the game, and I think we can all agree with him there. I’m sitting here trying to write this and have struggled to put five sentences together in the first hour.

It’s definitely disappointing, but I wonder, did people really expect anything different?

I feel comfortable saying I did after game four. The thought from me was that the win would spark change in this group for the better, and maybe it did, but there were a lot of problems with this final game that might have changed the narrative.

The biggest topic of discussion for most fans right now is that Kyle Dubas should trade one of the ‘big four’ after this collapse.

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But why?

You have to remember that this was likely one of the toughest years for everyone, especially mentally. Each player left their families to come into the bubble and try to play meaningful hockey, even without fans.

And at some point, you also need to remember that they’re humans, too. This time was difficult for everyone. I think there’s still a lot of dissecting you have to do before you say “trade Mitch Marner!”

The Leafs also had a mid-season coaching change, which could have resulted in some systematic issues. But I think you give this core one more chance. One more year to decide their own fate, and also let Sheldon Keefe coach this team for a full calendar year.

Even beyond all of that, the Maple Leafs’ year was decimated by injuries and you could agree that it happened in the qualifiers too with Jake Muzzin out and Tyson Barrie leaving game five.

Some might say Frederik Andersen was at fault for game five, some might say it was the entire group. I’d say the lineup changes were a huge part, but to sit here and say that Marner needs to be traded is lazy at this point.

There’s always overreaction before the real reaction. The fans have every right to be angry and demand a trade that they think will shake up the team. But I think it’s still too early for that yet.

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A lot of fans have been referring back to what Masai Ujiri did with the Toronto Raptors when they traded Demar Derozan (and more) for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green. That was a drastic shake up for a team, yet I don’t think you can compare the two sports in terms of player impact.

Say what you will about this team, but they played their heart out in this series and they did everything possible to win. Unfortunately, the Columbus Blue Jackets were the better team and knew how to beat the Maple Leafs at their own game.

It was as they say, “A Series of Unfortunate Events”, right?

There was a lot that went on in this series and if you come out and say to trade one of their best players, step back and think about it for a while. I guarantee in a few weeks, you’ll have a different opinion.

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