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Maple Leafs Are in Bad Place With Marner's Level of Control – Hockey Writers – Toronto Maple Leafs

Popular contract clauses that give players more stability and control over their destiny appeared in the NHL when the 2005 Collective Bargaining Agreement was signed. With the salary cap came the need for cap room and the opportunity to bury the contract in the American Hockey League. Since then, contract negotiations have changed. General managers began to offer all kinds of clauses to give some control to the players in order to agree to a lower salary.

There are full no-trade clauses (this one is pretty self-explanatory), but for the sake of clarity, let's add that it doesn't give control over other roster decisions the GM can make (waiving, downsizing, expanding the draft). A modified no trade clause (MTC) provides that a player can provide a list of X teams to which he does not want to be traded (hello, Canada!). Then there is a strong clause, a clause of immobility; with this one, the players are gold; they cannot be sold, demoted, subject to renewal, or taken out of retirement. To save money in the present, some GMs are willing to handcuff themselves to what could be a big problem in the future. Let's take a look at the Maple Leafs roster and Mitch Marner's contract to understand the damage it causes later (from “Inside the NHL's NMC/NTC mania: Why is trade protection on the rise, and does it change the deadline?”, The Athletic , March 6, 2004).

Kyle Dubas and the Core Four, or Is It Five?

Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the Leafs before Dubas took over, now makes it a point to not give his players a full NMC with the New York Islanders. Even when he was in Toronto, the only player he gave one of those to was Morgan Rielly for one year. Enter Dubas, who wanted to sign John Tavares so much that he gave him full NMC for the rest of his seven-year contract, opening the floodgates.

Is it any wonder William Nylander held out so long before signing his second contract? He saw how much money Dubas gave to the newcomer and asked why not me. In the end, Dubas gave him a one-year NMC, but it was the beginning of handing them out like candy.

Related: Could Maple Leafs Repeat Kadri Mistake by Trading Marner

In less time than it took for the Maple Leafs brass to have enough of Brendan Shanahan's Shanaplan, the Core Four or Five are now fully armed with complete control of their future. Now that the honeymoon phase is over with this core, how can Brad Treliving find a way to untangle it? No doubt it will take time to fix this, as discussed on the 32 Thoughts podcast.

Marner Can't Be Offered If He Doesn't Want To

All signs seem to point to Marner that player Treliving wants to move, but with his NMC, Marner is within his right to refuse. In other words, if Marner feels at home in Toronto and wants to see out his contract there, Treliving has absolutely nothing to do.

If Marner starts the season without an extension and remains on Toronto's roster, it could be a serious locker room distraction during the regular season. As for Treliving, the pressure will mount toward the trade deadline each week. They may want to trade him, but Marner is too big to let him go without a buyout until July 1, 2025.

Mitch Marner, Toronto Maple Leafs (Jess Starr/Hockey Writers)

Treliving should now be in “look Marner for a trade” mode, and that should make for some really bad negotiations. How do you tell a player who has bled blue and white for nearly a decade that he's overstayed? Can't you just tell him, “Look, we don't want you here anymore,” or just leave it all to the fans? “They're going to make your life a living hell, Mitch, every time we play at home, a fan is going to tap his Marner jersey on the ice at the end of the game,” doesn't bode well for the organization that will be playing. agreeing to allow fans to run the show.

Should he tell him, “Mitch, the media was brutal to you during the game, but you didn't see anything?”. How is that better than using the fan excuse…I don't know which would be worse for the credibility of the Maple Leafs. Go to “Look Mitch, if we can't move you, it's going to be a huge distraction for the lobby. Even if it is not what you want, you will hurt this organization. I think you should take one for the group now” by the way? That would be a guilt trip…

However, I don't want to be Treliving… he will always be stuck in this issue. Signed Auston Matthews and Nylander to new contracts, giving them to NMC for the rest of the season. If the player already has that bone, he can't return it, and why would he return it?

What stands out the most for the Maple Leafs is that they are at least in this position with Marner when he is still very fit, not when his game has started to decline. Life isn't much better for the Montreal Canadiens, who pay Brendan Gallagher $6.5 million a year to provide leadership and lead by example in terms of work ethic. Although he only has M-NTC and submits a list of six teams that he will not be sold to, no team will want to take this title with what he brings to the table now. In Montreal, he is highly respected for what he gave the team from 2011-2012, but it would not be the same if he arrived in a new place.

GMs around the league should be aware of the battle of wills taking place in Toronto these days. It's not the first time something like this has happened, and it won't be the last, but it can be avoided by not releasing so many full NMCs. As Guns N' Roses once sang, “Nothin' lasts forever, not even the cold November rain,” or the love of the band and the player, for that matter. Giving up these categories to players to settle for lower wages may be more expensive in the long run, but in time, money, and reputation.

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