To say that Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner
has been the target of some harsh criticism this offseason is a pretty sizeable understatement.
After the Leafs famously blew a 3-1 series lead in round one of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs to the Montreal Canadiens, critics quickly took aim at Marner for his lackluster offensive efforts during the postseason, despite posting strong offensive numbers throughout the regular season.
This issue isn't exactly new for Marner, who now has zero goals through his last 18 playoff games and hasn't eclipsed 4 points in a playoff series since his sophomore season back in 2017-18. Still, even with his recent struggles, Marner has produced 25 points to his credit across 32 playoff games - which isn't equal to his over a point-per-game during the regular season, but is not too far off with one or two more multi-point games in the postseason likely pushing him to that mark.
The main criticism that Marner has faced this summer from both fans and pundits has been that he has failed to live up to the expectations that come with being one of the highest paid wingers in the National Hockey League. Comparisons to playoff performers like Nikita Kucherov
, Brayden Point
, Mikko Rantanen
and David Pastrnak
have ultimately soured a lot of Leafs fans on Marner, who have begun to label him as a soft, overpaid, mentally weak player who simply can't put it together in the postseason.
Following the Leafs' loss to Montreal in Game 7, the media really seemed to challenge Marner's patience during the team's season-ending presser. Marner seemed frustrated and bothered by almost every question that was directed at him, but when he proceeded to try to have some fun in the offseason, that's where things really began to boil over.
Marner had to delete his social media apps after "fans" began to taunt him and threaten him on Instagram and Twitter over his subpar playoff performance and picked him apart for traveling, playing golf and even after he proposed to his fiancée.
Despite all of this, Marner has managed to keep everything in perspective this offseason and has told the Toronto Star's Chris Johnston that he is in it for the long haul in Toronto, regardless of the heightened level of criticism he is currently facing.
"I (knew from) growing up what exactly I was getting myself into and I wouldn't choose it any other way," Marner said on Monday.
Marner has been focusing intently on his preparation for the upcoming season in recent weeks and had posted a "hype video", containing clips from his rigorous workout routine last week, which he hopes will re-ignite the passion that Leafs Nation has for the team and will get people invested in the 2021-22 season.
For Marner's sake, I sincerely hope that it's a big one for the Markham, ON native and that he can find some postseason success and help propel the Leafs beyond the first round barrier that seems to have kept them at bay for the better part of two decades now. If not, changes will be coming in Toronto.