September 8th – Officially 25 days away from the season opener against the Montreal Canadiens. This game not only signifies the beginning of the Tavares era in Toronto, but this will also be another season where the Maple Leafs will not have a captain. Since the 2015/16 season, where Dion Phaneuf donned the blue letter “C”, no Maple Leaf player has had the honour. Not to say that there weren’t any candidates for the job but management felt it was appropriate to wait on this decision and find a permanent replacement for Phaneuf.
This will be the third consecutive season Toronto is without a captain as Kyle Dubas announced on Wednesday, Toronto will not be naming one for “AT LEAST the start of the season”. Thank you for those carefully crafted choice of words Kyle.
Let the controversy begin: Tavares V Matthews. Who will be named captain?
Websters dictionary defines controversy as: a discussion marked especially by the expression of opposing views.
Tavares said in a one-on-one interview with Postmedia at the NHL Player Media Tour on Friday ”I didn’t come here and expect the captaincy”. Obviously, Tavares isn’t going to publicly demand the captaincy but a man of his stature does have the credentials to be named one. This is the second time in as many weeks Tavares has put the team ahead of his own personal interests when asked about Toronto and teammate Auston Matthews. Again, proving he signed with the Maple Leafs solely to win a Stanley Cup. “When I went through the process (of signing with the Leafs), it was how I could add to and help this hockey team. (The captaincy) was never part of our discussions.” Says John.
“Everybody’s a leader in their own way. We have a young core of guys, guys that have been here for a while, and I don’t think you need a letter to be able to lead by example or to speak up in the room. I think everybody’s close to each other where if something needs to be said, it’s going to be said,” said Matthews, when asked about captaincy in an interview with the Toronto Sun.
This doesn’t sound like much of a “controversy”.
These two superstars clearly have no issues sharing the spotlight and are optimistic about what this season will offer. With or without a letter, individually both players will have a responsibility to lead this team to the playoffs and ultimately give the Maple Leafs a chance to win the Stanley Cup. Toronto has successfully made the playoffs in each of their past two seasons, both times without a captain. Who’s to say they can’t win the Stanley Cup without one either? The point is, Toronto is fine with or without a captain. Leaders are literally oozing out of the organization, starting with Shanahan and Babcock, ending with Matthews and Tavares. If Toronto is a cup contending team this season, it won’t be because they don’t have a captain but because the Shanaplan is real and so are the Maple Leafs.