After receiving a formal invitation from Hockey Canada last week to represent the team at the upcoming IIHF World Championships in Denmark this month, Mitch Marner requested that he be allowed to take the weekend to make his decision. Marner and his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates had just gotten finished with a brutal and disappointing first round Game 7 loss to the Boston Bruins and the 20 year old forward wanted a little extra time to mull over his decision.
Well, after nursing his wounds and taking stock of all his bumps and bruises, Marner has officially declined the invite. Thanks, but no thanks seems to be the official word from Marner. As a result, Hockey Canada named Colorado Avalanche forward Tyson Jost to the team in Marner’s place.
Really though, you can’t blame Marner for needing a little break. The Markham, ON native was the Leafs’ leading scorer this season with 22 goals and 69 points in 82 games. He then followed up his terrific regular season by once again leading the team in the playoffs, putting up two goals and nine points in seven games. He was as physical as fans have ever seen him in that series against the Bruins and was a threat to make a play every time he stepped onto the ice.
His game winning goal in Game 6 of the series on home ice, a goal that forced a Game 7 back in Boston, might be the highlight of the Leafs’ season.
Marner played his heart out for the Leafs this season and has earned himself a few weeks to kick back and rest his body. Marner has played nearly every game on the schedule for the Leafs over the past two seasons and, prior to that, had long, deep runs with the OHL's London Knights. Point is, the kid has played a TON of hockey in the past few years. Throw in the fact that he represented Canada at last year's World Championships where he had four goals and 12 points in 10 games during a silver medal effort, and it's clear to see why Marner would prefer to get some much needed rest..
Canada, whose roster includes Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney, opens up its tournament on Friday against the rival Team USA.