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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