General Manager Kyle Dubas addressed the media at training camp on Saturday after Mitch Marner rejoined the fold with a new six-year, $10.9 million AAV contract in hand.
I would like to thank Mitch, his family, his representation the work that they put in in the last number of days to have this matter come to a close in the way we wanted it to from the very beginning, which was with Mitch committed to our team for an extended period of time. Now we can get back to business here and get back to work while we are here in training camp with no distractions and nothing hovering above the team. We can all just be at our best as we go into the year.
On what it means to have all of the core under contract long-term:
To our whole organization, it means a lot. It was one of the things we looked at when we were going through the decisions you have to make with different players. I understand that people look at it and say no team has done it this way before. That said, we have these guys committed to us for an extended period. We will get into a stretch here where we can just come to the rink every day and play. We won’t have any of this hovering above.
People will make their own discussions and try to make their own controversies, but I don’t think we have any at this point. We can just enjoy being together and have fun being together as a program and continue to grow as a program without having to worry about anyone going anywhere.
For me, in my position, I know it means a lot. I know it was important for me to deliver that for our staff and our players so that they could just come to work every day and be at their best as well. That is the most exciting part for me.
On what he likes about the final deal:
I think we got a commitment from Mitch for six years and that should be as he enters his prime and then goes into his prime. I know everyone is not going to agree and Mitch would want more and we would want less. It’s something that we both agree on and can move ahead with it. The way we evaluate these things, we think that all of the contracts we sign, the players’ production and output and what they bring to the organization will match their level of play. I think we all hope they exceed it and that sets them up well for their next contracts.
On being able to get The Big Three under contract:
It’s been interesting. Every single one of the players is different. They have different personalities. They have different backgrounds. They bring different things to the club. It is a very unique situation. We’ve got young players who are extraordinarily talented and already the best at what they do. We all have room to grow. They would be the first to tell you they’re not close to reaching their potential yet and it is our job to help them get there and their job to continue to get here. They have already accomplished great things in the league individually. I know, in speaking to all of them, it’s important to them that now we are starting to grow as a team and starting to work towards greater team success.
The key thing for me is that they all believe we are on the cusp of being able to do that. They see their own part and how it influences how far we can go as a group. It was an interesting process. I am excited that we can know we are all going to be in this together for an extended period. I think that should be exciting not only for our players and staff but also our fan base.
On what he’s learned from negotiating four major contracts in the year and a half since taking over the job:
Lots. I don’t know that we’ll ever be in that type of situation again, especially not jumping right into it. I’ve learned a lot. I’ll be the first one to say I screwed some things up and made some mistakes and tried to learn from them. I am not afraid to ever admit that. I think that’s how you learn your most and your best. I am happy that we have got to the conclusion we have gotten to. You learn a lot in the process and what you would do differently the next time around. In the end, I am happy we were able to deliver all of the three guys that were impending and bring John in as well and try to continue to improve our team as we did so. We are excited about that.
On what mistakes he’s made along the way:
Lots. I wish everything was done with all of them in one day. They all took long periods of time. With William, I think we’ve talked about that at length. I wish we would’ve been on it earlier and gone through it earlier. In Auston’s case, I don’t think there was anything… We had the information that we had and were projecting ahead where it would go with him, so we executed that one. In Mitch’s case, we got it in and done before camp.
You look back and always are looking to find ways to do things better and find ways you could’ve improved the process throughout to come to a conclusion sooner. The key thing is we are all here. Different things that I’ll reflect back on after this has come and gone, I’ll continue to adjust. Fortunately, we’ve got a great staff and when things are not looking the greatest, whether it’s Brandon, Lawrence or Shanny on our staff, they do a good job of helping out. I’m fortunate that way.
On meeting with Marner on Thursday:
We had a sitdown on Thursday for quite a while and it was great for Mitch to explain to me how he felt and for me to explain to him the reasons why we were at where we were at and what we were proposing, and about how he fits into the team and how the team was going to move forward and everything of that nature. We had that opportunity Thursday. I don’t want to speak for Mitch, but I think it was a real positive in the process.