Mitch Marner sat out his fifth straight game on Satuday with an upper-body injury, failing to impress Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock.
Babcock expressed frustration about Marner’s absence, telling media members Marner looked like “the best player” at practice. He was unsure why Marner was forced to sit.
Babcock on Marner: "It looked to me like he was the best player out there today, I don't know why he's not dressed tonight."
— Kristen Shilton (@kristen_shilton) February 25, 2017
Babcock is reportedly frustrated with the medical staff holding out Marner, per the Toronto Star.
Without a doubt, Marner is an important cog in the Leafs lineup. However, if the medical staff doesn’t think he’s able to play without risking further injury, then Babcock needs to respect it. It’s unclear what he gains from calling out his staff like this. It’s not like they don’t have what’s best for the organization as their main directive. Perhaps, the medical staff is withholding info from him? A highly doubtful proposition.
TSN’s Craig Button said Babcock’s comments were undermining if he was trying to call out the Leafs medical staff.
Mike can't suck & blow at the same time. If it's in the medical staff's hands then this is definition of undermining.
— Craig Button (@CraigJButton) February 25, 2017
Unquestionably, Babcock wants to ice the best Leafs lineup night in and night out. Marner’s skill set is elite. He’s a huge part of Toronto’s present and future. Having him play, in the thick of a playoff race, would provide a huge boost. But, if he’s not healthy and Babcock knows it, he needs to keep his issues to himself and not try to rush a young player back from injury.