St. John’s, N.L. – Mitch Marner has confirmed what his agent, Darren Ferris, told TSN1050’s First Up on Monday, saying he received multiple offer sheets from other teams during his restricted free agent negotiations with the Maple Leafs this summer but wasn’t interested in pursuing them.
“The whole goal of this was to be a Maple Leaf, so [the offer sheets weren’t] in our head too much,” Marner said on Monday from Leafs’ training camp at Mile One Centre. “As soon as Darren mentioned [them], I told him right away I don’t want to explore that option. But I didn’t want to miss training camp, I didn’t want to miss any games this season, so that’s why I really forced the issue with [Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas] to get something done and get me here. I’m happy it happened.”
In revealing some inner workings of the negotiations with Toronto, Ferris said Marner’s commitment to the team never wavered.
“He told me, ‘Darren, I don’t want to sign [the offer sheets], I want to be a Leaf,’” Ferris told First Up. “So we declined both of those opportunities and I know Kyle [Dubas] was aware of one them, the team had actually told him that they had made the overture to Mitch and there was a very strong likelihood there were more that would be presented once the season started. As you know, the cap number gets set and makes it more difficult for a team to match.”
Marner demurred when asked about specific figures on the offer sheets, admitting, “I didn’t really want them, so I didn’t ask too many details about it.” But regardless of the numbers, receiving outside interest didn’t give Marner any extra validation.
“It was nice hearing other teams valued me, but I knew this team valued me too,” Marner said. “In our four years being here, I knew how much faith they have in me. And that’s another reason why I wanted to come back, to show them they made the right decision and I made the right decision staying here.”
It was Marner’s meeting with Dubas last Thursday that ultimately pushed talks over the finish line, culminating in the six-year, $65.36 million contract Marner signed Friday night. The closer Marner came to missing time on the ice, the more he felt that dealing with Dubas directly was their best path towards a solution.
“I thought it was good it brought us face-to-face and expressed both of our feelings,” Marner said. “The whole waiting part and seeing what was going to happen, that’s the part where you’re sitting at home and you keep hearing the discussions between the two [sides], and I think that’s why Kyle and I met – just to clear the air and make sure we’re talking to each other and figuring it out.”
Since the middle of last season, Marner had been steadfast in not wanting to know much about what transpired between Ferris and Dubas, hoping only to be informed about a deal when it was close. Marner says now that proved mostly impossible, and made the process more stressful than he anticipated.
“It’s hard. I live there. You aren’t getting away no matter who you talk to, family or friends,” he said. “It’s always in the back of your mind, but you just try to get away, down to the lake or out of the city a little bit and clear my head through that.”
Now that Ferris has had his say publicly on the negotiation, Marner hopes attention turns to what he and the Leafs do on the ice.
“Since day one, I’ve been super happy being here, it’s been great,” Marner said. “And now I’m happy we got that deal done and we can get to work now. This team is together for a while now, so we have to make sure we make [these years] work.”