The Toronto Maple Leafs were humiliated by the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins won 7-1 without five of their top players. After watching 60 minutes of embarrassing hockey, fans could only hope that comments in the post-game press conference would give some hope and some reassurance. Unfortunately, it didn’t. If there wasn’t reason enough to be worried after the game, the post-game sealed the deal.
Marner Giving More Fuel to the Haters
Leading the way, Mitch Marner. The first thing he said after losing 7-1, “I don’t think we can be concerned.” Wrong answer. Sure, he shouldn’t say cry and yell. Still, some accountability, regret, and even shame should be the first things relayed from a leader after that disgrace. Instead, Marner’s next words just dug his grave deeper, “We’re still early in the season. Obviously, it’s not what we wanted, but day off tomorrow in Carolina. Fresh page.”
Marner is public enemy number one to a frustrated and disgruntled fan base. Instead of trying to appease the fans, he seems to be ramping up efforts to be hated. He mocked a reporter’s questions earlier in the week. Before the season started, he released a video using carefully selected lyrics from a Drake song to address haters. Unfortunately, that group of non-fans is growing as Marner’s arrogance and nonchalant attitude are reaching new levels of disdain.
Jack Campbell was pulled after the second period. He had allowed five goals on 21 shots but said, “overall, I felt pretty dialled-in.” No one is blaming Campbell for the outcome. Four of the five goals he allowed were off deflections. Still, no one should be claiming to be on their game after losing 7-1, especially to a team with five minor league players in the lineup.
Related: Maple Leafs are Playing the Blame Game
John Tavares at least seemed to be watching the same game, and his first words were, “it wasn’t pretty obviously, disappointing.” Tavares went on to talk about improvements needed. But then he was asked about the lack of scoring, “Well, when you give up – what was it? – 12 in two games, we could have scored four or five, but it wouldn’t have mattered, so first we have to take care of the areas defensively.” That was a deflection. Toronto has scored 12 goals in six games. 25 percent of goals scored have been by Jason Spezza, the 38-year-old who is playing for a league minimum.
Muzzin, Stanley Cup Winner, Gives Real Anwers
Jake Muzzin was the fourth player to talk. Thankfully he said all the right things, “obviously not good enough, we come out slow, we get our game going, we gave up a few, we let them take over, and we have no fight. We got outworked, out-competed. We got to go back to the drawing board.” He wasn’t done, “it’s inexcusable, myself, everyone, we all need to be better.”
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A reporter was gathering quotes to preview the next game against the Carolina Hurricanes and former Maple Leaf Frederik Andersen. The players gave some comments, except for Muzzin, “to be honest, I’m not too worried about that. We’ve got other things to worry about.” The difference between those four players has never been more prominent; Muzzin is the only one who has won a Stanley Cup.
Of course, Sheldon Keefe addressed the media, he said all the things he has been saying, so there is no need to repeat it. But the team hasn’t been listening. Keefe did not address the players after the beat down.
Related: Maple Leafs’ Keefe Was Right to Call Out Marner & Top Line
No one wanted or expected the players to get in the fetal position during the post-game media conference. But they can learn from Muzzin’s comments. When a fan base is this concerned, and rightfully so, you have to acknowledge that it’s not good enough, and you will be better. So put the ‘A’ on Muzzin; there’s an unused one on Marner’s jersey.