What to make of Mitch Marner and Craig Berube’s offseason meeting

Photo credit:James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports
Shane Seney
18 days ago
Welcome to the Toronto Maple Leafs 2024 offseason where the head coach and an assistant captain can’t have a coffee together without going viral.
Yes, Leafs head coach Craig Berube has been making his rounds, trying to get to know his new players through one-on-one meetings. As you’d expect, when he and Mitch Marner decided to head to an Etobicoke establishment to have their discussion, naturally it was caught on film.
There’s plenty to unpack here so let’s dive into some of the elements of the meeting.

Why did the meeting take place?

Easy one. Berube is the new bench boss, he’s trying to get to know his players, especially their personalities off the ice and Marner is under contract as a Maple Leaf for next season.
Leafs captain John Tavares, who was over in Czechia playing at the World Championships, stated to Chris Johnston of TSN that once Tavares lands back in Toronto, he’ll do the very same thing and meet with Berube.
As the new leader behind the bench, Berube likely wants to hear firsthand from the players on what they felt was the reason they couldn’t get by the Boston Bruins in the first round. He likely wants to know what they expect from a head coach and why they feel the team as a group can’t get over the hump. We know Berube is going to be very direct, and no-nonsense and tell it like it is to his players and to the media. Communication is his strong suit and it all starts with a summertime introduction.

What’s with the location?

Considering it’s 2024 and the city of Toronto, it is a bit surprising to see this meeting take place out in public. It could have been much easier to have it behind closed doors at a private location of choice, but instead, the two decided the corner of an establishment was best.
There’s been a lot of ‘this is the first time I’ve seen Marner in a corner in May’ jokes making their rounds. Perhaps those are warranted after his latest playoff performance. Regardless, it’s a bit surprising to see these two out in public, but at the same time, it feels like Berube doesn’t care all that much and is willing to stick his head out in the media and show Leafs fans he’s hitting the ground running with his new job.

What’s with Berube’s body language?

Don’t read into Berube’s body language and how his arms are crossed. Yes, this is the level of CSI-Toronto that Leaf fans are at now. Let it be known, Berube looks pissed off on the best of days and hardly cracked a smile at his introduction press conference.
Being bubbly is not his forte. The Maple Leafs newest head coach is as intense as they come and when he’s setting the tone with one of his best players, he’s going to bring it. So let’s not read too much into Berube’s body language – there’s likely no correlation between his mood and the player he’s speaking to.

What does this mean for Marner’s future?

First things first, there have been no reports of Marner being asked to waive his no-movement clause. Even though management stated that ‘everything was on the table’ at the end-of-season press conference, there’s still a chance Marner returns for the final season of his current contract. There’s a chance the entire ‘core five’ returns.
According to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff, he handicapped it as a 5% chance Marner returns to Toronto. Seravalli also shot down Colby Cohen’s take on Marner having any leverage with his no-movement clause:
After this meeting Berube hopefully has a sense of Marner’s personality, what makes him tick, his reflection on this past season and his time as a Leaf. And the new coach likely has a reasonable idea of what Marner’s outlook into next season looks like.
General manager Brad Treliving on the other hand, appears to be heading into a ton of trade conversations on most of his players, and this likely includes Marner. The Maple Leafs need a number-one goalie, they need a ton of help on defence and with just $18.5 million in projected cap space and Max Domi and Tyler Bertuzzi potentially eating up roughly half, Treliving’s likely going to pull off multiple trades around the NHL draft and heading into free agency.
Speaking of free agency, if and it’s a big IF, the Marner situation leads to asking him for a list of teams he’d be willing to be dealt to, don’t expect to see any trade come down the pipe until after July 1. He isn’t eligible to sign a contract extension until free agency begins and there’s zero chance an interested team is going to ship numerous assets out for Marner, without a contract extension in place.
Nevertheless, don’t read too much into an offseason meeting between an assistant captain and a new head coach. It’s par for the course. Berube has a job to do and it starts by getting to know all of his players and more importantly, start forming strong relationships with his leadership core. Marner’s still a huge part of the group. For now.

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