Babcock on Marner: I’ve never coached a kid that young that good

It would be easy enough to focus on his clever opening goal against Nashville, from the side of the face-off circle – his 6th of the season.

1-0 Toronto.

But what really stood out were the two assists.

In assisting on JVR’s goal Marner took a superbly timed hit – on his part – at centre ice…

and dished the puck to Bozak, who eventually sett up JVR.

2-0 Toronto.

And then he battled for a puck and won it (remember he is a 160 lb rookie) and then deftly tipped a pass on to the stick of JVR who could not miss with that pass from that position…

3-1 Toronto.

After the game coach Mike Babcock gushed about the Leaf rookie who is not Auston I-Scored-4-Goals-In-My-First-Game Matthews:

“Marner’s a special player. He not only has the skill, but he competes with and without the puck . . . I’ve never coached a kid that young that good.” (Star)

Gulp. This a man who coached Datsuyk and Lidstrom and doesn’t dish out praise too freely – so let’s repeat his words:

“I’ve never coached a kid that young that good.”

People have compared Marner to Patrick Kane.

Fair enough but one of Marner’s great and unique skills (see the 2-0 goal) – being able to safely take and absorb and effectively avoid hits all the while creating positive space and seeing the ice and the right pass and the brilliant pass – remind me of someone else – Wayne Gretzky.

Marner is virtually un-hittable – unless he wants to be, as he was on the 2-0 goal.

I know that it’s crazy and a stretch and I’m not saying he could become Gretzky in his totality but as Babcock says, Marner is looking like a truly special player.

If so maybe then he won’t be like Patrick Kane.

Maybe he’ll be better?


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