Mitch Marner has a chance to solidify his Maple Leafs legacy in Game 7

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
1 month ago
Mitch Marner needs to find a way to impact Game 7 Saturday night in Boston. His Maple Leafs’ legacy is riding on it.
Throughout the first-round series against the B’s Marner has continually been outplayed, not only by the other team but also by most of his teammates. From the lack of effort to retain pucks in the corners early on in the series, to holding onto the puck way to long in the offensive zone without shooting the biscuit, Marner has given everyone a little taste of frustration. Three points in six games is not good enough. Game 7 needs to be different.
Marner takes a lot of heat in Toronto and sometimes it’s not warranted at all, but when you’re making $10.9 million dollars per season, the expectations are sky high, as they should be. He is the ninth highest paid player in the NHL this season, and on a season-depending Saturday night in Boston, he needs to perform like it.
Throughout the first-round series, Marner has been able to make more of an impact as the games have gone on, but to this point there hasn’t been a breakout game or his ‘moment’. William Nylander had his, Matthew Knies had his, Joseph Woll has had a couple, meanwhile Auston Matthews put the Maple Leafs on his back in Game 2 and ensured the team would be staying in the series. It’s Marner’s turn.
When it comes to all-time Maple Leaf records, Marner ranks up with the very best. He’s played only eight seasons with the franchise and already ranks eighth in total points and fifth in assists. It’s legendary stuff, and he’s certainly on his way to perhaps one day battle it out with Matthews for top spot in most offensive categories. That’s if he can help lead the Leafs to victory in another elimination game. If Toronto loses Game 7 in Boston on Saturday night, all the attention, rightly or wrongly is going to be on Marner. He’s been the fall guy before and he’s certainly going to be now, should his team not be able to pull out the pivotal victory. Nylander battled migraines, came back and won Game 6 for his team. Matthews has a lot going on and is getting a pass this time around.
Marner has one season left on his contract as a Maple Leaf and if things go south on Saturday night, there’s certainly a chance Brad Treliving asks him for a list of teams he’d consider being traded to and the talks would pick up in a major way at the NHL Entry Draft in June. If the Leafs lose to the Bruins, massive changes are coming. Marner and perhaps even Tavares could be involved. Treliving has committed to Matthews and Nylander, they aren’t going anywhere. Leafs fans are hopeful the team’s GM won’t have to make those calls.

Marner Has Done It All in Toronto

Besides bringing home a Stanley Cup in his eight seasons, or even an Eastern Conference Final appearance, there hasn’t been much Marner hasn’t done as a Leaf. He has 639 points in 576 regular season games, he’s almost a point-a-game player in the playoffs, posting 50 in 56 postseason games to this point. Add in the 200-foot game and him being named a Frank J Selke award finalist last season as the league’s top defensive forward, and he’s got an impressive list of accolades. Still, there’s a sense that he still needs to find a way to deliver.
Is it because of the contract? Perhaps. I mean it’s not necessarily a great look to see him being outplayed by a rookie and someone making seven million dollars less than him but that’s just the way of the road sometimes. Certain players step up in the biggest moments of the season and right now Max Domi and Knies have done a great job to make an impact. When you demand the dollars, the expectations rise up and now it’s time for Marner to find a way to exceed them.
Nevertheless, Marner has a chance to put all the warranted and unwarranted noise behind him. Game 7 in Boston is the biggest game of his career and even though it’s just one game, it has a chance to completely alter his Maple Leafs’ legacy one way or another. Win and you get one step closer to bringing home a Stanley Cup, lose and that could be the end of an era in Toronto.

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