When asked about what he thought when he heard Toronto Maple Leafs’ fans booing Justin Holl, Mitch Marner and head coach Sheldon Keefe seemed to imply that these fans were both thoughtless and had little idea of what was going on.
In fact, both Marner and Keefe stood up for the quality of Holl’s play and his strength of character. Marner especially noted that Holl “stays mentally strong,” even when he’s getting booed by fans.
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Marner and Keefe Stand Up for Holl
In the video below, Marner and Keefe stand up for Holl after he got booed by fans last game. Point one? Holl doesn’t get enough credit for what he does for the team. Point two? Fans simply have little idea what’s going on. (Hockey is a tough game.)
Mitch Marner Upper Deck Maple Leafs 2
What’s so interesting to me as a writer who covers the Maple Leafs is how often the team utilizes an “inside-outside” metaphor. They do this when they feel the team is unfairly criticized by fans in this uber-critical fanbase. This happens a lot in Toronto.
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What Marner Is Saying About Fans
In fact, Marner employs the metaphor when he notes that (a) fans don’t see what good play Holl engages in and (b) Holl has “all the respect and love in this locker room, and that’s what matters.”
The first implies that, despite what fans think they see when they see a player making a mistake, they simply don’t know everything about hockey. As Marner suggests, hockey is tough and no one could have made the plays Holl couldn’t make.
The second implies that fans are really mostly insignificant to the players when they make assessments of how players are doing on the ice. As Marner notes, Holl is respected in the locker room; and, that’s where (and the only place) it really matters.
In other words, the team’s unity is more important than the fans’ critique.
Key Ideas Expressed by Marner and Keefe
Marner noted that “everyone’s going to say whatever they want. Everyone speaks their mind nowadays in this world and does what they want. (Implied, whether they know what they’re talking about or not.)
Marner noted that Holl mans up on the blue line. He’s not afraid to block any guy’s shot. He’s got a great stick and he can play physically strong hockey.
Marner believed Holl has made some great plays and (of course) one makes mistakes sometimes. Pointing specifically to plays that fans thought Holl muffed, Marner noted that few players would have been able to make the play.
Justin Holl, Maple Leafs
But even more important, Holl is a guy who stays mentally strong. Why? Because he knows he has “all the respect and love in the world in this locker room and from the guys beside him.”
Marner then lauded Holl for being “even keel and just going out to play” regardless of who’s being hard on him (his coach, his teammates, or himself). Here Marner makes an interesting admission that there’s some heat coming down on Holl (and likely other players as well) from both outside and inside (from Holl’s self-critique of himself).
Keefe noted that Holl has “enough intelligence and perspective to be able to just get rid of that sort of thing.”
Keefe noted that Holl had taken the “long road to get to the NHL.”
Keefe also noted that, over his career, Holl has had many doubters. That said, he continues to play with confidence; and, “he’s found his way through it.” Keefe’s assessment? Holl’s a very resilient guy.
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