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Mitch Marner and Jake Muzzin’s unlikely friendship: ‘A cohesion sort vibe’

There was concern in Mitch Marner’s eyes and voice final month when the topic of injured teammate Jake Muzzin got here up.

It was a pair days after Muzzin was hit unexpectedly by Coyotes ahead Clayton Keller and it wasn’t identified, at that time anyway, what would change into of Muzzin’s season, and extra importantly, how it will have an effect on his life.

Marner stated it was most necessary that Muzzin “guarantee that he is going to have the ability to do no matter he desires to do the remainder of his life and benefit from the time along with his household, his children.”

All of it felt private for Marner – and with good cause: Marner and Muzzin are shut. They share an unlikely bond, a bromance even.

Muzzin is greater than eight years older than Marner, a quiet household man and gruff-looking veteran chief of the Maple Leafs. Marner remains to be simply 25, a bouncy, energetic sort who’s identified for chatting nonstop and enjoying – and watching – video video games in his spare time.

The 2 do not seem to be an apparent match.

“Generally issues simply click on,” Muzzin stated of his friendship with Marner at coaching camp.

“We identical to having enjoyable collectively,” Marner stated. “It is a good time with No. 8.”

The friendship blossomed rapidly after Muzzin was traded to the Leafs in late January 2019. Muzzin was 30 at that time, a grizzled Stanley Cup champion who had solely ever identified an NHL life with the Los Angeles Kings. Marner was solely 21, however a rising star within the league and an rising affect throughout the Leafs. He instantly invited Muzzin out for dinner.

Muzzin would not recall the place they went or what they ate however remembers exactly how the gesture made him really feel.

“At that time, I might been round. I wasn’t a younger man coming over,” Muzzin stated. “Nevertheless it’s nonetheless good to be welcomed like that by somebody, particularly of his stature.”

“That is simply how I’m,” Marner stated. “I attempt to welcome all the brand new guys the perfect I can, assist them out.”

Muzzin had left his household behind in LA He was alone initially in a comparatively unfamiliar metropolis. Marner knew that.

“I used to be making an attempt to maintain him busy, making an attempt to do stuff with him,” Marner stated, “after which I discovered rapidly that we had a bond of loads of stuff and appreciated to have some good instances collectively. It simply meshed actually rapidly and it is became an amazing relationship.”

(Mark Blinch/NHLI through Getty Pictures)

Of these shared bonds, Muzzin stated, “We love {golfing}, we love Muskoka, we love canines, we love beer.”

I’ve laughed.

Marner had tried to carry him into his world of video video games, and whereas Muzzin stated he loved all that when he was youthful, “Issues have modified – children and blah, blah, blah. The video video games do not get performed. He performs tons. I do not play anymore. I haven’t got time to take a seat there and play 5 hours of video video games.”

Muzzin is among the many first invitations to Marner’s summer time place in Muskoka although. He is up there loads, Marner stated, and brings his household alongside too.

“It is fairly humorous, I am fairly good associates along with his two daughters now. Now we have loads of enjoyable collectively.”

They even commerce Snapchat messages.

Marner’s fiance and Muzzin’s spouse have additionally grown shut. “It is a enjoyable relationship and one which’s extra than simply hockey,” Muzzin stated.

Up in Muskoka, through the offseason months, the Marner and Muzzin clans head out for browsing on the again of Marner’s boat in addition to late-night cruises at sundown.

“We’re fairly fortunate that each our households actually like one another, have loads of enjoyable with one another,” Marner stated.

Muzzin has come to really feel like an older brother to Marner. Earlier than he was injured, the 2 sat subsequent to one another on the workforce aircraft.

“We battle backwards and forwards,” Muzzin stated. “Nevertheless it’s all in enjoyable and a great relationship – form of a cohesion sort vibe.”

It wasn’t fairly the identical expertise for Muzzin arising as a younger man with the Kings. His shut buddies of him on the workforce had been throughout his age of him – Drew Doughty and Trevor Lewis, for example. His older teammates may very well be arduous on the youthful gamers. They had been extra like mentors than buddies.

Muzzin nonetheless leans on the now-retired Matt Greene for all times recommendation.

“We give one another the love we deserve,” Marner stated, “but in addition on the identical time, we’re sincere with one another, we’re straight up with one another – I believe that is why we’ve such an amazing relationship. ”

(Eric Hartline/USA At the moment)

As Marner famous, he and Muzzin have been on the ice collectively lots through the years, together with as members of the Leafs No. 1 penalty-killing unit. They typically talk about on-ice technique.

“If considered one of us is messing up or one thing, neither considered one of us is afraid to talk up, particularly Jake,” Marner stated. “He isn’t afraid to talk as much as anybody on this locker room, and that is why all of us cherish him and love him as a lot as we do. It is positively that huge brother vibe for positive. He positively brings that to our desk.”

Muzzin stated he was instantly impressed by Marner when he first joined the Leafs, but in addition knew that he might provide steering sometimes too – “life experiences, deal with conditions.”

“However he is accomplished very effectively for himself,” Muzzin noticed earlier than the season. “To be within the place he’s, being from Toronto, being a giant participant on a great hockey workforce, it isn’t straightforward to deal with with such ease.

“I like the way in which he handles himself. You see somebody cares that a lot – it is contagious.”

Marner says he and Muzzin are each “fairly huge goofballs.”

“I believe lots of people in all probability get somewhat thrown off with him, simply because typically he is somewhat quieter,” Marner stated. “The large beard, he seems scary. However he is one of many nicest human beings I’ve ever met and he is hilarious to be round. He is loads of enjoyable. He doesn’t act his age of him. He acts loads youthful, and that is why I believe we mesh so effectively.”

Although he hasn’t been obtainable to the Leafs for greater than a month now, and will not return in any respect this season due to a cervical backbone damage, Muzzin has remained across the group. He is a every day presence within the gymnasium, the dressing room, and apply facility.

He and Marner proceed to speak day-after-day. “I am positive I am virtually speaking to him greater than his spouse de él,” Marner stated grinning final week.

Marner was admittedly emotional when Muzzin sat him down and advised him he would not be returning anytime quickly. He felt for his buddy from him.

“It is robust to not have him on the ice and never with you day-after-day,” Marner stated, “however a minimum of having him within the room and across the guys — it is uplifting.”

(Mark Blinch/NHLI through Getty Pictures)


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