Mitch Marner can breathe a deep sigh of relief.
The longstanding public contract negotiation between the star forward and Toronto Maple Leafs is now over after the two sides agreed on a six-year, $65.36-million deal Thursday. After it was all said and done, Marner opened up about how difficult the process was in an interview with TSN's Darren Dreger.
"Guys talk about the stress and everything like that, but until you go through it you don't really understand it, but I'm happy it's over with," Marner told Dreger.
Marner said talks really escalated in the last two days.
"(I pushed) pretty hard, I knew we were close so I just wanted to kind of be more a part of it," he said. "In the last 48 hours or so I just made sure that I expressed to Kyle a couple times what the feeling was and what we had and what we wanted to do going forward."
Marner added that William Nylander's contract stalemate a year ago played a part in his decision to get a deal done. Nylander waited until Dec. 1 to sign and when he returned to the lineup, it took him a while to get back into game shape and find his footing. Marner remembers Nylander telling him how much of a grind the whole process was mentally and physically.
However, Nylander was back home in Sweden during his drawn-out negotiation, while Marner, a native of Markham, Ontario - a suburb of Toronto - couldn't escape public scrutiny.
"I was walking my dog and I had like a 13-year-old kid yelling at me from across the park, screaming at me for not signing," Marner said. "That's the Toronto fan base and it's great to be a part of for another six years."
The pressure to sign didn't stop around the neighborhood, as Marner and his family - specifically his father, Paul - took some heat on social media.
"Social media has its benefits, it's good for certain things, but it's also good for a lot of bad things. People express their hate for people on that. It's something that a lot of athletes go through on social media, is the hate," he said.
"It was more so seeing all the stuff said about my family that made me disappointed and mad. I expected stuff to come at (agent Darren Ferris) and myself, but I saw a couple comments about my father and stuff like that that nobody is gonna like seeing or reading. It was pretty disappointing to see people express themselves about my family and my family name."
Many Twitter users were under the impression Paul Marner was a driving force in the negotiations and fed information to Dreger throughout the process.
With the business side of things now in the past, Marner can just focus on hockey.
"I'm super excited," Marner said, who was on his way to the airport to join the team in St. John's, Newfoundland for training camp.
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