Toronto Maple Leafs taking the right approach with Mitch Marner

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 18: Mitchell Marner
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 18: Mitchell Marner /

Mitch Marner was in fine form against the Los Angeles Kings on Monday, proving that the Toronto Maple Leafs have not ruined him on the fourth line.

Even though the Toronto Maple Leafs Leafs are off to a strong start to their season, everything is not going to go their way all the time. The losses to the New Jersey Devils and the Ottawa Senators were an example of that but the Mitch Marner situation has been the one non-stop talking point all season.

Ever since Mike Babcock moved Marner to the fourth line with Matt Martin and Dominic Moore, the tone has changed but now the question many are asking is how much longer is it going to last? Marner had his best game of the season against the Los Angeles Kings and it showed on the first Leafs goal.

After the game from Babcock acknowledged that Marner is a star player and they need him to play like one. Instead of benching him or take him off the powerplay to send a message it appears as if he is letting Martin take care of that for him. This is how Martin described Marner’s attitude during his demotion.

"“He took it well in terms of how he handles it publicly. I can imagine it’s not easy for him. He’s an elite player,” Martin says.“He’s not down. He’s not pouting around the rink, which is an impressive thing for a kid. I’ve experienced that in the past with young guys: When things don’t go their way, they fall into their own little world and pout their way through it. He’s energetic.”"

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Martin also went on to say that if the Leafs are to get to where they want to be, Marner is going to be a big part of that. Obviously playing on the fourth line is not maximizing on Marner’s talent but putting him in a competitive environment will get him back on track.

The fourth line is generally supposed to be a spark plug, usually they spark a team when they are slumping during a game. Usually it is with big hits, hemming an opponent in their own end or once in a while a fight. In Marner’s case, his relationship with Martin seems to have given him a new purpose. It was clear that there was a spark missing when he was playing with Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk.

Maybe Monday’s game against the Kings helped Marner get it back but don’t expect one game to change Babcock’s mind on moving Marner just yet. Eventually he will be moved up in the lineup, the question is whether he goes back to his old line or if he moves up to play with Nazem Kadri and Patrick Marleau.

Thursday’s game against the Carolina Hurricanes will be just another game for the Leafs, but for Marner it is another opportunity to show that he is rgetting his dominant form back. Six points in nine games is not back for a second year player but he needs to show continued consistent confidence in his decision making.

Next: Raptors show growing pains through first three games

What do you make of the way the Leafs have handled Marner’s situation? What should they do with him if he continues to improve? Let us know in the comments below.