Mitch Marner addressed the media after his team’s latest postseason disappointment, mentioning he wouldn’t do anything different to prepare for the playoffs next season.
How demoralizing is it when you see some of the over-the-top reactions you have gotten on your social media?
Marner: Social media-wise, I have deleted all social apps even before the playoffs. It is a distraction you don’t need. Social media is a great thing but also, as I have spoken about before, it is something that can be terrible as well. I know that. I got off of that early.
I haven’t looked at anything. I have just been hanging out with my teammates and reflecting on a spectacular season. Obviously, terrible ending, and it’s something we are all very disappointed in. In saying that, we are so disappointed because we had such high faith in ourselves and confidence we were a team that could a lot of damage and be special.
Obviously, it hurts that we didn’t live up to our own expectations. We all want to be better. Obviously, the end goal here is always to win, and to not do that, it is always disappointing.
When you do your reflecting, what do you think is the team’s biggest hurdle to jump over to finally get over the hump and win a round?
Marner: I mean, we had three cracks at it. It sucks we didn’t get it done. We needed to score goals and we didn’t do that. We had the talent. We had the will. We had the fight. It just didn’t come through.
It seems like it’s always the same words at the end of the year. It is unfortunate and it sucks. It is just time to go to work again, get your body ready for next year, and make sure you are a better person than you were this year.
How do you respond to this idea that you refused to play a certain role on the power play this season?
Marner: It is a complete lie. I deleted all social, so I haven’t seen what has been said or anything. My agent called me and told me about that. I don’t know who put that story out there, but it is just people trying to get their name out there and make themselves noticeable, I guess.
It is unfortunate, but that is the world we live in nowadays. People on social media try to make someone else look bad. I would play any role on the power play. I wouldn’t play power play. I don’t care. Everyone wants to win here.
It is a complete lie. It sucks stuff like that is being said, but I am not surprised, either, at the same time. It is a complete lie, though. I think everyone sees that I try to play any role I can to try to help this team win. I was trying to do it all year long.
I can’t really do anything about it. Let that story do whatever it wants, and who cares?
What will you take from this season moving forward?
Marner: It was very difficult — testing every day, not being able to see my family. I am from this area, like a lot of guys from this team. I wasn’t able to see a lot of my best friends just like a lot of people weren’t able to see their friends and family. It was incredibly tough that I wasn’t able to get together with my family and friends and do the usual stuff we do hanging out.
Obviously, it is offseason now. It is time to get to work and get my body ready. I am trying to be a better person and a better player than I was this year, and make sure I am ready to do that.
You have mentioned wanting to be a better person. Is there something you want to do next season to better prepare for the playoffs?
Marner: Nope. I thought we had a lot of great looks. I thought our line did a lot of great things. Everyone just looks at the numbers and stats. I thought our line did a lot of great things in every hockey game. We had a lot of great chances to produce goals and chances. They didn’t go in the net. It sucks.
I thought what our line did at 5-on-5 creating energy and just what we did every night, I thought we competed. We didn’t quit ever. We never had any doubts in each other. That is something you want in a line and as a team.
For me, it is just making sure I get stronger and faster. I am going to try to make sure that I am ready to play how many minutes are needed to play 82 games and be ready for whatever comes after that.
When you have a spectacular regular season but the end result isn’t different, how do you reconcile those things?
Marner: In a season where Covid is a thing, not having one person on our team test positive for it shows how dialed in everyone was to staying committed to this team, staying committed to one another, and making sure we are all doing the right thing taking care of each other and ourselves so that nothing happened to this team to slow it down or get in the way of doing what we did.
Obviously, like I said multiple times today, the end result is terrible. It is not what we wanted. We are all very disappointed. We had such high confidence that we were a team that was meant to do a lot more.
That’s all I can really say. No one is feeling good about this. It is awful. We all wanted a better result. Obviously, what we did and what we didn’t accomplish isn’t a good feeling.
Do you sense something that is missing from this team from a hockey perspective, or is more of a mental block that needs to be overcome?
Marner: I mean, I don’t think it is any of that, really. Like I said, we had the chance to finish out a series, and we didn’t do it. We had three games. We didn’t get one of them accomplished.
From our standpoint, we all know we need to be better. It is just a terrible outcome. It is something that we always feel like we are sitting here at the end of the year disappointed in what we accomplished. We want better.
There is nothing we can do now. It is time to look forward to summertime, look forward to getting your body ready, and try to be a better athlete for next year.
Can this team win when the big four on offense are eating up half the salary cap? What do you say to the suggestions that one or more players has to be split up for a more balanced lineup?
Marner: I mean, we have an unbelievably talented General Manager. Shanny, too. Those guys do all of the numbers. They do that stuff. That is on them to decide what they want to do. I think everyone just wants to be in panic mode and do stuff and always want to figure something out with something new or to change something up, but I think they have a lot of confidence in our team, like all of us do in the locker room.
It is up to them to decide what they want to do, but we all know how much talent we have and how much grit and will we play with. We all want to win. That is something that I think is so impressive about our team: the guys really do want to win. Everyone wants to step up and take it upon themselves to be winners.
That is why it is so disappointing right now. We didn’t meet our own expectations.