He gave no change.
That’s what Maple Leafs outfielder Mitch Marner looked like, in retrospect, on his one-shift bench in Anaheim against the Ducks on Sunday.
Coach Sheldon Keefe let Marner run short in the third period of the Leafs’ eventual 4-3 overtime loss to the Ducks, a slap on the wrist that came after a pair of costly Marner turnovers.
“I take a lot of responsibility within myself and (Keefe) does with everybody here in this locker room,” Marner said. “It doesn’t matter who you are. You have to show that every player is responsible, regardless.
– I have no problem with it whatsoever. I had the opportunity to go back and finish a couple of shifts and almost finish that game in overtime. You have to take responsibility and you have to put it on yourself.”
Keefe shrugged off his choice to seat Marner.
“As a coach, you make a lot of decisions as you go through the game and sometimes you’re trying to send a message to the players, sometimes you’re trying to send a message to the whole team,” Keefe said. “Every situation is different. I was already looking for a way to get Denis Malgin for an extra session, and it was an easy way to give Mitch time to process things, knowing you’re going to get him back into it.
“These decisions are made all the time with a lot of our players. Not the first time for Mitch and not really a big deal.”
Marner also left the bench at one point to smash his stick in frustration. It didn’t stick with Keefe, although some may have seen it as a lack of respect.
“Guys have to have shops and do what they need to do as they work through things,” Keefe said. “We need our guys ready when the game starts. Mitch was and I have no problem with that.”
The line of questioning during Marner’s media availability came around to the reaction the struggling Leafs, and the play of him individually, have received on social media as the team has lost four straight games.
“I’ve been saying this for years — I don’t really have (social media),” Marner said. “I just discovered it’s a toxic thing, it gets into your mind a little too much.
“Since I stopped it, it’s been great. It’s been refreshing for me and my mindset.”
Does Marner still have to fend off messages from family and friends about what is being said about him in public?
“None of us really read it,” Marner said. “I’m sure my father (Paul) does, but he knows not to tell me about anything because I don’t care to hear it. I just hang up.”
Pontus Holmberg, you are up.
As the Leafs try to solve the mystery that is their bottom-six group of forwards, Holmberg is next to try to make himself part of the solution.
After being called up from the Toronto Marlies on Tuesday, the 23-year-old Holmberg worked out between Pierre Engvall and Calle Jarnkrok on the Leafs’ third line. Barring something unforeseen, Holmberg, a sixth-round pick of the Leafs in 2018, will make his National Hockey League debut against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.
Holmberg had a solid camp with the Leafs, and although he only recorded two assists in seven games with the Marlies, his well-rounded impression earned him a promotion.
“We liked the idea of having a natural center coming in and he had a really good camp for us,” Keefe said. “We liked a lot of things about him and he’s gone down to the Marlies and all the reports are he’s been excellent for them.
“He’s not a high-scoring guy, but he does a lot of really good things that contribute to winning, so we’re happy to have him.”
During the Leafs’ last five-game road trip, Jarnkrok and winger William Nylander were used in the middle.
Extra forwards at training on Tuesday were Nick Robertson and Nicolas Aube-Kubel.
On the fourth line, David Kampf stood between Zach Aston-Reese and Denis Malgin.
Goaltender Matt Murray, who suffered an adductor injury during the Oct. 15 morning skate and was placed on long-term injured reserve, was on the ice before practice. “He’s progressing well,” Keefe said. “Today was the day that was scheduled (for Murray to get on the ice), so he’s been meeting and staying on that schedule. From that standpoint, I think he’s fine. He’s going to continue his process. I think he’s still is a good distance away (before he returns).” … One positive for the Leafs has been the play of goaltender Ilya Samsonov, who is expected to start against the Flyers. Samsonov’s stability has improved his odds in the Vezina Trophy race (for as long as they can still be). After starting the season at 100/1 at BetOnline.ag, Samsonov has been moved up to 33/1 odds to win the Vezina. In nine career games against the Flyers, Samsonov is 7-1-0 with a .919 save percentage and 2.33 goals-against average.