After three years without a captain, the Toronto Maple Leafs have finally chosen to award the “C” to John Tavares. He becomes the 25th captain in Maple Leafs history, and will be joined by alternate captains Morgan Reilly, Auston Matthews, and Mitch Marner.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been without a captain since trading Dion Phaneuf in 2016. While management had previously said that they would name a new captain when the choice was obvious, it wasn’t until recently that choosing Tavares became more and more clear.
We can all assume that the final choice for captain was between Matthews and Tavares. However, the recent conduct of Auston Matthews, both on and off the ice, has shown that he is not currently ready to take on the responsibilities of captain and be the true face of the Maple Leafs organization.
First, there was an incident during a preseason contest against the Ottawa Senators where Matthews trolled Scott Sabourin checking what the name was on the back of his jersey. While the Maple Leafs star may have just been having a bit of fun, it also showed a lack of maturity.
That maturity level came into question once again when news came out that Matthews had been charged with disorderly conduct over the summer after an incident occurred in his hometown of Scottsdale, Arizona.
After those two occurrences, Tavares became the clear choice to be the franchise’s next captain. He had previously served as captain of the New York Islanders from 2013-2018, so he has plenty of leadership experience. Beyond that, he has good character and leads by example both on and off the ice.
“It’s hard to say if (the captaincy) will have an effect on the ice, but there’s obviously a special significance with the Maple Leafs, the city, the franchise with the captain,” Tavares said last week. “It’s obviously been an important role in hockey history and with many franchises. Many great captains, great leaders.”