Mitch Marner Saga Ends, Dreger Issues, Rosie Goes Rosie, Blue Jays Swan Song & More


Things I have been pondering while I contemplate how the Ontario government blew $42 million dollars selling weed:

I am not sure you can watch this, but try this anyway:

Let’s call that, the rant. The Mitch Marner rant.

You see, this has been one of the strangest episodes in the Toronto Sports Media we have seen since we have been doing this. Let’s recap:

We have been on Mitch watch for what seems like ever. Obviously, it picked up once the Toronto Maple Leafs season ended and speculation was rampant as to what was going to happen. There was a common sense that the Maple Leafs did not want a repeat performance of the Willian Nylander saga and I am not sure if mistakes being corrected is the right verbiage but there was a sense that Kyle Dubas was going to try to be more assertive and communicative with Marner so to get things settled sooner rather than later.

For months we heard a lot but not really much. Offer sheets rumored but nothing was ever signed. Potential deal terms got leaked or shall I say rumored but, nothing ever substantiated and certainly no deal got done.

A couple of things have been brewing in the background for some time certainly as it related to Maple Leafs nation. The first being based on several reports that Marner has felt slighted by the Leafs in comparison to Auston Matthews. To be clear, none of this was actually ever put on the player, but rather the demon was always his father, Paul and to a lesser extent his agent. The belief was that the Marner Camp was furious over bonus payments Marner was told were not part of team policy only to be offered to Matthews the next year. Matthews’s perception as being the face of the team, his potential to be named captain, all were gripes that the Marner camp has in addition to not being willing to accept a penny less than #34 received in his contract extension.

As the Maple Leafs assembled for a golf tournament, physicals and an eye towards exhibition games Mitch Marner was riding the Nylander December express train.

Now, a couple of things happened that were of interest here. You can read all the talk about the deal etc elsewhere.

Along the way, as is always the case certain media members reported various aspects of rumored Maple Leaf offers and Marner’s rejection of those offers. TSN’s Darren Dreger was most prominent in reporting on the Marner/Leafs negotiations. As spring evolved into summer a funny thing happened, Maple Leafs nation started to tie the TSN Insider to Paul Marner, Mith’s father. To be fair, I don’t think the association was mean spirited, but it did take off, and it definitely was a thing. To the point where any Tweet by Dreger about the Marner negotiations was immediately responded to with some reference to Paul Marner. The best being, “Thanks, Paul.

I have tried to go back through time to see the last time a media member as prominent as Dreger in his or her sport was so closely labeled a shill for a player – even if in jest and came up empty.

Personally I found it funny.

This, by the way, in my opinion, led to some mis-association by some in the media. When the Marner deal was finally done both Ray Ferraro and Craig Button immediately came to Dreger’s defense.

Now, I didn’t see or hear media members taking shots at Dreger. The fans were having fun with the ‘Thanks Paul stuff but I don’t think anyone was necessarily was suggesting Dreger was misinformed. I Can’t tell you what was happening behind closed doors or on Whatsapp chats.

So that was one thing that we really haven’t seen before.

The next issue is quite fascinating and it is open for debate right now.

Just prior to the deal getting done, details were all over the media on the deals that Marner had turned down. See the Overdrive clip above. When that information was reported, and clearly it was leaked by the Maple Leafs things turned ugly for the Marner camp from the PR side of things. Not that it wasn’t the case before, but public sentiment went off the deep end in the teams’ favor. Marner was being painted in a way that I can’t imagine anyone involved liked irrespective of the veracity of the claims. Even though Marner had turned down the offers, the fact that became public soured public opinion on the matter.

Then Jeff O’Neil went to town.

O’Neil basically BBQed Marner for not having signed the last reported Maple Leafs deal. Sighting the massive amount of money being discussed, in various currencies coupled with the amount more Marner apparently wanted, the rumored Matthews issues and of course the risk of injury, O’Neil simply toasted Marner in a way that has never been seen before.

We have to remember Marner is a Toronto kid. He is playing for the Maple Leafs and as such he has a stellar position in the city and in the community. To get torched by one of the most popular media members in the country had to sting.

The question is how much did it sting if any.

Well, sports media fans, I can tell you that there are numerous folks out there that believe that the above rant couples wit others who piled on had a direct effect on Marner getting his deal done. Marner’s meeting the Dubas, his priority in getting to camp before the first skate all came from something and there was a purpose and urgency to the negotiation that was not there before. Quite simply, many people believe that in essence what occurred is that Marner felt the blowback and told his dad and agent, I want to go back, so get the best possible deal right now.

Believe what you will, I can tell you I am hearing it a lot, and no not from TSN people.

Do you believe that the media can influence a negotiation like the Marner contract?

Brian Burke I believe it was once said that once the fans started chanting fire Wilson he knew he had to make a change. Do you think O’Neil had an effect here?

On the topic of Burke, I don’t think anyone nailed the Marner situation like Burke did late last spring when he said the only way a team presents an offer sheet to Marner is if they are sure the Leafs won’t match and basically, no one wants to spend that type of dough.

I put this on Twitter, last weeks Overdrive shows are classic examples of why the show is so damned good. The launch of the show where the guys talked about families reluctance to buy minivans followed by O’NEil’s rant that there is no way Shanahan and Dubas are the least bit worried about upsetting the Marner’s in naming Matthews captain was excellent radio; the boys at their best in my opinion.

The afternoon drive team, Blair and either Brunt or Deitsch are the better interviewers for sure. Hayes is getting better, but the other three are damned, good question-askers. When it comes to banter and talk, there is no comparison. Overdrive wins.

Ahhh yes, Rosie is back. Have to love when she goes off don’t you. One never can tell when exactly it will happen or to whom, but when it does it is memorable.

Super talented and always classy Tara Slone took the high road as expected.

As for Rosie?

keeping it real!

Well, we almost made it..

Rob has done stellar work covering the Jays all season. Not easy.

The next time we see Dan, will he be the official voice of the Blue Jays? I think it may very well be.

While on the local scene, not that anyone asks me, but I nominate the Toronto Star’s Laura Armstrong for a local newspaper award in journalism for this stellar piece on Scott MacArthur. It is a must-read, and yes from the Star. It is nice to continue to see great work being done by both The Toronto Sun and the Star in the sports world. It doesn’t happen often enough at the Globe but we keep hoping it does.

No, I have no clue how long Blair will sit in the captains’ chair for PTS. I don’t think anyone at Rogers does either. No, I don’t know when McCown will announce his next role. I don’t think it will be much longer and no I do not think it will be with TSN.

When you read the Athletic, do you do so via the web (i.e directly through a browser, or a link from say twitter) or do you have the app? Inquiring minds want to know.

I browse the Toronto radio podcasts each day to see which segments I want to listen to. I have a few other podcasts I listen to (sport and non-sports). Quick, what are your favorite podcasts?

I am an avid Twitter user. I honestly can’t tell you the last time I unfollowed someone. Wow, am I in the minority. Some of you have Twitter ADD. I don’t get how people have time to follow and unfollow as frequently as people do.

While it was nice to have the summer off, following the Raptors run, it is equally nice to be back to NFL football and NHL Hockey.

Finally, I am trying to get the TSM Pressbox off the ground again. ISO of a sponsor to cover the cost of production. If you know someone interested HOLLER.

Happy fall!


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Bob Loblaw
Bob Loblaw
September 17, 2019 10:17 pm

You need an editor.  

September 18, 2019 12:23 am

Great roundup, TSM.

Overdrive has been the talk of the Toronto sports media scene for a while eh? I’ve been beating this drum since their Leafs Lunch days – it’s best show I’ve ever listened to on sports radio in this city. A perfect mixture of banter and analysis and they’ve only gotten better over the last few years. It’s interesting you mention O’Neill’s rant being connected to Marner signing when he did because I had the same thought when I read one of Marner’s quotes. For context, Marner said this after he told Dreger he just let his agent handle everything:

I just wanted to be more a part of it the last 48 hours or so. I just made sure that I expressed to Kyle a couple times what the feeling was about what we had and what we wanted to do going forward…I made sure that Kyle knew I wanted to be at camp and I wanted to be with my teammates for the start of the season, and that’s kind of why yesterday something got done.

O’Neill’s rant took place 2 days before Marner signed. I had friends sharing it on social media. There’s no way it didn’t get back to Marner. That, in conjunction with the fans’ vitriol after contract numbers were leaked, I think led to Marner deciding to sign.

PTS by the way…it’s becoming pretty sad, at least for me. It was a staple in my life for my entire sports fandom. I’ve listened precisely ZERO times since Mccown left. Literally not even once. I don’t care about the show anymore. The market is saturated, there’s way to many good sports podcasts to listen to as it is, and the show does’t do it for me with Mccown gone. I’m sure there’s many others like me out there and the Fall ratings book is going to be VERY interesting. I think there’s a chance that Overdrive beats PTS outright, and that’s on terrestrial radio (which doesn’t include podcasts/streaming where Overdrive surely has a big lead already). Overdrive deserves it, but wow, very shortsighted by Rogers to get rid of Mccown.

September 18, 2019 7:31 am

Ferraro has it wrong. The issue with Dreger is not that the figures may or may not have been incorrect, it is that optically he came across as a mouthpiece for the Marner’s.

The Marner’s? They come across as the worst type of hockey parents – my son deserves more than anyone else because I say so. The fact that Dreger looks like he got payed by them makes it even more amusing that he will likely now be tainted with “Thanks, Paul” for the rest of his career.

Good for the Leafs for leaking out the figures offered from June. It accomplished two things – the actual deal got done and it confirmed that their young core of stars don’t care about anything more than themselves. 

September 18, 2019 11:20 am

Thanks for the column. I’m a long time reader, first time writer and have really enjoyed the work you guys do.

On the Athletic, 95%+ of the time, I read/listen to podcasts from the app. Whether in transit, at home, at the gym, killing time, etc., the app is well laid out and very easy to navigate.

As for podcasts, lately, I have become a huge fan of Spittin Chiclets. It’s not for everyone, but the takes are very good and they turn what normally can be mundane, boring interviews with athletes into must listen events. The crew, RA, Ryan Whitney and Bissonnette work well together. I enjoy Craig Custance on the Athletic (The Full 60)–usually very thoughtful interviews. I am not a big fan of Puck Soup though on the Athletic. I don’t mind Wyshynski or Brown but I find Ryan Dixon’s constant need to be contrarian and “right” all the time to be over the top and not compelling listening. The Leafs podcast with Mirtle and Siegel is fine.

I think Jayson Stark and Doug Glanville do an excellent job on Starkville. I haven’t yet found an NFL podcast that I like. Not a huge NBA fan, but the NBA Daily Ding was great listening while riding the Raps bandwagon.

Others I like–31 Thoughts is must listen stuff. Marek and Friedman play well off each other. I tried out the podcasts on I am a big Millard guy so I did enjoy the Chirp but suspect podcasts will be few and far between with his new Vegas gig. Millard was also on Blundell’s podcast, not sure I will be interested without him there. Found the Barnaby podcast a bit dry–for me it’s essential that a podcast have two constant hosts, commentators, etc. I really liked Shulman’s podcast in 2018, A Swing and A Belt, I think it was called. Great listening, due to his breadth and depth of contacts, disappointed that it disappeared in 2019. Terry Ryan out of Newfoundland has a podcast that I am going to give a try to. Oh and finally, I’ll cherry pick Toronto Mike podcasts as well–very good listening in particular with guests like Dave Hodge, Dreger, McKenzie, etc.

I would be very interested in a McCown podcast. I think on a once or twice a week format with handpicked guests, topics, we would get that engaged Bob that is second to none. The only drawback would be if it was a McCown/Shannon podcast. Never enjoyed those two together.

I believe Ferraro and Dreger are going to do something podcast wise. That will be worth a try.

I rarely listen to radio shows as podcasts–I prefer the above to anything on sports talk right now. Agree with all the comments on Overdrive v PTS. I’m a big Brunt fan and enjoy Dietsch. Also, I have nothing against Blair, but the combination is just not working. The TSN crew has them beat hands down right now.

OK, that’s it for now. Thanks for these posts, always must read.

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 18, 2019 2:18 pm

@ Drumanchor…Agree with your Dreger take. In media communications perception can be everything and Dreger has only himself to blame for how his role is interpreted. This will pass over time, however in the short term nothing he says about his Marner posts will change any minds.

As for the parents, fair or not my first thought when his father’s role was known: “Lindros 2.0”. Hopefully he will prove me wrong by not complaining about future team decisions and perceived slights.

September 18, 2019 8:25 pm

@Paul G. Thanks, and I couldn’t agree more with your comments. 

NOTE:  I actually meant to say “played” as opposed to “payed”.  Sigh…..

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 18, 2019 8:29 pm

@ Drumanchor…I thought so. This site needs an Edit Feature that would allow for post publication corrections.

Bob Canuck
Bob Canuck
September 19, 2019 12:16 am

Paul G.,

With respect to your suggestion of an Edit Feature, I agreed. 🙂

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 19, 2019 2:19 am


stephen marks
stephen marks
September 19, 2019 6:50 am

Great article that proves this entire planet is nothing more than a revolving sphere of useless opinions. There are no experts anymore, just insignificant people podcasting, tweeting, blogging, vlogging and shitting out their “hey look at me” comments. Here’s mine. Larry, Curly and O, the Three Stooges on Overdrivel going off on Rich Marner is absurd. One never played professional sports but is an expert on expensive pillows, one was a back-up journeyman who missed more rubber than Michael J. Fox trying to paint a straight line in a Goodyear head office parking lot, and one stole money from the very game he criticizes in the last two bloated, fat and lazy seasons of his career. Hey O’hog, if you’re going to blast the hand that fed you you’re going to need a 12-hour podcast to criticize every fast food restaurant between Raleigh and Newmarket.

Dan Shulman becoming the voice of the Blue Jays, great I say. Hey Buck, “get up, get outta here!” Nice toupee though.

Rosie Somebody. I don’t even know who this woman is, isn’t she the chick on page 3 of the Star. You know in Britain their newspapers reserve page three for a picture of a beautiful bikini-clad woman. It wouldn’t work here, I’ve seen Rosie’s thumbnail pic, plus she doesn’t like horses.

Finally, the rest. Rob Longley, the ex NFL spread expert at the Sun. Dude you picked more losers than a recruiting firm hiring for CannTrust. Bob McCown, man is this still going on. Bob the tweets about your future are vaguer than a fortune cookie being crumbled onto a Ouija board at the same time a wine expert tries to guess the flavor of that batch of Merlot the RBC repossessed. And Rich Marner. Nice attitude Rich. Reminds me of the old joke about Wayne, Gordie, Mario, Sid, Bobby, and Scotty Bowman walking into a bar and being spotted by Rich and his father. Paul says, “we better send something over to these icons”, “Like what?” says Rich. “Well our bill of course”

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
September 19, 2019 10:36 am

Dregger became the flag bearer of what I thought was a biased media in Toronto. Not everyone, but a number of the mainstream media came off as peddling for Marner. Every time the words “offer sheet” came up, it started to seem like they were trying to get “Mitch” his big payday. In the end, Dregger just kept at it and now he carries the flag. I can see it tainting his “insider” status for sometime.
I could care less about the “edit” thing TSM – I prefer more activity rather than less and highly edited. I use The Athletic app and on the web at work. I vote for a Shulman/Buck Jays coverage moving forward.

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 19, 2019 12:06 pm

@ Steve in Waterloo…you misunderstand what I mean about an Edit feature. I am not asking for the Moderators to edit posts. They tried this earlier this year I posted against the practice on more than one occasion for the very reasons you provided. It killed the natural ebb and flow of the discussions and vastly reduced the number of entries.

What I am requesting is a feature that exists on sites such as the Disqus forums or the Sowney board to name but two. If you are signed-in to the forum, “Edit” and “Delete” buttons appear with just your post. You (and you only) can subsequently make corrections and changes to your post without having to make a new entry.

It is not an essential feature, however it can be handy when you initially make a spelling error or discover that an Autocorrect feature has changed your entry.

Steve in Waterloo
Steve in Waterloo
September 19, 2019 1:14 pm

Paul G – consider me better informed – merci!

Paul G.
Paul G.
September 19, 2019 1:38 pm

Steve in Waterloo…no problem. It wasn’t until I read your comment, that I saw how ‘Edit’ could be interpreted differently. Another benefit of exchanging views is that I learn new things.

September 20, 2019 10:35 pm

Random thoughts

@Justin The three stooges on Overdrive are just that. No clue on any topic other then hockey and even that is a stretch. O’Neill constantly saying how lazy he was and the other two idiots laughing as if this would be something to be proud of? You had the chance to be a professional athlete and you treated it like it was just something to pass the time. This makes a good or reputable broadcaster????? They are unlistenable.

Andi Petrillo we get you are Italian. So what has nothing to do with your show Leafs Lunch. Stop with Italian references nobody cares.

Brunt is bored unless they are talking Jays not just baseball. Never heard anyone so excited talking bout Jays prospects in A and AA ball. Should have been part of purge at Sportsnet. On a side note thank you to Rogers for telling Shannon exit stage right. Truly self proclaimed hockey insider. Seriously????? Kypreos too much ego. Time to go.

Deitsch is good but needs to stop continously praising any female athlete or reporter as if they are the be all and end all of all male or female athletes or reporters. Trys to hard to praise any female. There are some good ones there are some bad ones like male athletes or reporters.

Dreger is useless. Nuff said

Those who are fans of Bob McKenzie (he is retiring end of this season) need to carefully listen to him. Never heard anyone state more disclaimers prior to him even saying even something as simple as “I think Leafs will make playoffs”. What is point of being Insider or on Leaf’s panel if you won’t put yourself out there with any kind of opinion, good or bad? Nobody is going to hold you to it. Just a simple prediction. Lebrun is fine.

Buck is better 2nd chair not 1st chair. Tabler refuses to say anything negative bout Jays. They could be losing 10-0 and he is spewing “all the positives” Jays are doing that night????? Hey Pat team with little bit luck, they deserve to lose 100 games this year. Nothing positive. Please retire. Bring back Zaun.

Wilner…..doesn’t he remind you of the Kardashians. Zero talent yet somehow survives. Wilner please go away.

Should bring back Doug MacLean. Good opnions, not afraid to ruffle feathers to make point. Will inject some humor.

Rogers should overpay to bring back McCown which they won’t.

McArthur is good. “The Good Show” is absolutely putrid. The name of their show is an oxymoron.

Friedman is good most nights but when asked simple question of what does 1+1 equal he goes on for minutes and then maaaaaaaaaybe says two. Sometimes less is more.

Can someone tell Landsberg it’s over but that would insinuate it once existed. Coliacovo huh?????

Did I miss anyone good or bad? Probably.

September 21, 2019 3:29 pm

Zero chance that Shulman takes a fulltime gig with the Jays anytime soon. Whatever he makes doing ESPN coverage of the MLB playoffs and college hoops is way more than he is making at Sportsnet. He’s still young so no point sewering his career by leaving ESPN.

Bingo Bango Bongo
Bingo Bango Bongo
September 21, 2019 5:40 pm

@Bobby and @Stepehen Marks   Turn off the radio if it sucks so bad. You both are incredibly negative and that’s fine. If you don’t like it turn off. I particularly enjoyed the last sentence. Did I miss anyone good or bad? Probably. Uhmmm…good? Where? The only good appears to the the goor reception your getting from their signals.

September 21, 2019 6:31 pm

My podcast go tos are Dan Lebatard Show (by FAR the best sports radio show going imo), and Pardon My Take.
For local stuff I used to listen to McCown for general sports, then Blair if I wanted to hear about baseball. I do enjoy Blair and Brunt together, but I’m still so angry at Rogers for letting McCown go, I haven’t listened to PTS much since. I used to think Good Show was terrible, but I do think those guys are improving – kudos to them. As for TSN Radio – in all the years TSN Radio has been on the air, they have produced exactly zero shows that have interested me. Granted I’m not a hockey fan and the station is very hockey heavy, but they’ve never once drawn me in.

September 21, 2019 8:55 pm

Bobby I completely agree with everything you said!!
Some of these old smells are just that.  They’ve gotten lucky they have been thrown a life vest  this long.
Bang on man!!
The only one I think you forgot is smug and probably way overpaid and definitely way over traveled arash madani.  Brings nothing to the table at all except bs and condescending talk.

Gary M
Gary M
September 22, 2019 11:54 am

Steve, I agree that there’s no way Shulman will commit to the Jays full time and suddenly be doing 7 day road swings through Kansas City and Texas. Don’t know if money would even be the issue. It’s probably just not interesting enough for him.

Curious that you called him young. Is mid-50s young now? Genuinely asking.

September 22, 2019 2:50 pm

@Bingo Bango Bongo

Did you not read my good/positive comments?

-“Deitsch is good”
-“Lebrun is fine”
-“Bring back Zaun”
-“Bring back Doug MacLean”
-“Bring back McCown”
-“McArthur is good”
-“Freidman is good on most nights”

Did you fall asleep reading the post or do you have a selective reading brain?

If you do not like to read counstructive warranted criticism then stop reading this site idiot.

Oh yeah I did forget someone Jamie Campbell. Biggest Jays homer. Oh wait a minute no bigger homer then Wilner. Campbell brings down Siddall who is open and honest bout how bad team truly is at times.

Good enough for you Bingo?

September 23, 2019 9:54 am

Glad to see couple posters on this blog criticizing Jeff O. When I mildly critiqued Carlo C. for lack of basketball knowledge for criticizing referee during Raptors basketball playoffs in early June, CC LIKED a tweet from some wit of nit
person who began his tweet calling me JackA..while JO called me a piece of sh..for my referenced tweet to CC.

Mike Z. was astute and well spoken when he appeared on SPORTSNET HOCKEY CENTRAL last year and clamored for him to get a regular gig on FAN 590. Very pleased he is permanent co-host of SPORTSNET TODAY with Scott M. weekday mid mornings, who continues to bring his prior NHL playing career to professional listening levels as a radio broadcaster.

Certainly, compared to over the top bordering on obnoxiousness social media presence from the pair of former NHL’rs turned broadcaster featured morning and afternoon shows on TSN 1050.

September 23, 2019 4:59 pm

Bobby again well said.

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