Although the debate has quieted down quite a bit as we venture deeper into the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season one of the big questions surround the Toronto Maple Leafs remains unanswered this season. Who will be the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
It may have once appeared that giving the captaincy to superstar forward Auston Matthews would be a forgone conclusion but things have evolved in such a way that now most view the team as having at least 3 legitimate candidates for the position. Matthews of course remains the front runner in the minds of many, and perhaps rightfully so, but the introduction of a player like former long time New York Islanders captain John Tavares at the very least introduced some doubts into the minds of fans in Toronto.
Unlike Matthews, Tavares is already an established leader in the National Hockey League and although the Islanders found relatively little success under his leadership most lay the blame of that at the feet of Islanders management rather than Tavares. As a hometown hero who grew up loving the Leafs Tavares would also make an ideal captain given that he could serve as a local role model, but of course Matthews is perceived to have a longer future ahead of him given the fact that he is considerably younger.
On top of Tavares however there have also been calls by many members of the media for the captaincy to be awarded to defenseman Morgan Rielly. In spite of his young age the veteran defenseman remains one of the longest tenured Maple Leafs and has demonstrated that his skill on the ice is only matched by his unique ability to handle the pressures of the Toronto market. Not only has Rielly established himself as a leader on the team, regardless of the letter on his jersey, but he has continued to improve as a player making him an ideal candidate for a leadership position as well.
On Friday Sportsnet NHL insider Elliotte Friedman hinted at a very surprising decision that could be looming for the Leafs, one that I must admit I did not see coming.
"I have a feeling you might never see the Leafs name a captain. I mean seriously what's the point?"
It sounds like Friedman believes the Leafs will look to avoid any potential controversies by simply have a leadership by committee type scenario in their locker room. It certainly would avoid creating any tensions between the three players I just mentioned, and given the current state of the Leafs I think Friedman may be right on this one. Things are going great for Toronto and they have yet to name a new captain for their organization, why rock the boat now?