Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock sat down with TSN insider Darren Dreger to make an announcement many had been speculating for months about. The Toronto Maple Leafs alternate captains announced today did not surprise many fans. As expected, there will not be a captain to start this season. Instead, it has been awarded to Patrick Marleau, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly.
GIVE THEM AN ‘A’ – #MapleLeafs head coach Mike Babcock says Patrick Marleau, Morgan Rielly and John Tavares will make up the team’s leadership group this season (via @DarrenDreger) https://t.co/zw9DOh9NYl #TSNHockey pic.twitter.com/GeZ1qicSLB
— TSN Hockey (@TSNHockey) September 13, 2018
Alternate Captains Announcement
No Leafs player has donned the “C” on his sweater since Dion Phaneuf did so from 2010 until his trade in 2016. After ushering in a new era in Toronto, many have wondered who would finally take the helm of the team. At first, the popular thought was that the front office would mimic what the Edmonton Oilers had done. After drafting Connor McDavid and establishing him as the foundation of the next chapter of their franchise, they quickly made him captain. He became the youngest in NHL history to wear the “C” after a mere 45 games in the NHL. With that in mind, many figured fellow former first overall draft pick, Auston Matthews would get the nod. Since entering the league in 2016, the Arizona native has become the cornerstone of the future of the Leafs. Thus, he seemed to be a solid choice for the leadership role.
The other subject of speculation talks was John Tavares. After signing with the Maple Leafs many thought he could be the next captain. Toronto’s other star center for the next seven years served as captain for his former team, the New York Islanders, from 2013 until his departure in July. The 27-year-old clearly knows what it takes to take the helm of an NHL team. Despite never having a good team around him, he willed the Islanders to the playoffs three times during his tenure there. In 2016, his goal in double overtime of Game Six propelled them to a series win over the Florida Panthers. It was their first series win since 1993. Tavares definitely boasts the experience that Matthews has yet to gain. However, it wasn’t as polarized as fans had thought.
Making A Decision
Last week, general manager Kyle Dubas made it clear they were in no rush to name a captain. The choice wasn’t as clear-cut as they had previously thought. Instead, the Maple Leafs’ management team decided on being patient and opening another season without a captain. Today, Babcock announced who would comprise the leadership roles in its place.
Morgan Rielly will return as an alternate captain once again. He has consistently held a leadership position since 2016 and is the only one returning from last year. Last season’s other alternates, Tyler Bozak and Leo Komarov left during free agency. Rielly is consistently a positive presence in the locker room and leads an otherwise dismal defensive core.
Patrick Marleau is entering the second of his three year deal with the Maple Leafs. This time he will don the “A”. He, like Tavares, has previously served as captain. From 2004 until 2009, Marleau wore the “C” for the San Jose Sharks. He also was centered around their captaincy debacle in 2014 when then-head coach Todd McLellan once again stripped Marleau of a letter, this time the alternate. The Sharks were criticized heavily for constantly stripping letters away. However, Marleau did not let it get to him as he still excelled on the ice and was a franchise icon in San Jose for 19 years. Now in Toronto, his leadership will once again be put to the test as he gets to wear the “A” this year.
John Tavares turned in his “C” with the Isles for an “A” with the Leafs. However, one can imagine he’s all the more excited to play on a team with some promise and respect from ownership. Babcock and Dubas turn to the tested veteran to carry his locker room presence to Toronto. He’ll have the opportunity to show a very young Leafs core how to make it in the NHL and develop into the stars that the Leafs see them as potentially being. Tavares will no doubt act as a sort of mentor to Matthews as well and mold him into Toronto’s next franchise player.
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