The Toronto Maple Leafs have been without a captain since Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Senators in 2016. Until now. As the Leafs opened their season at Scotiabank Arena on Wednesday, John Tavares was announced as the 25th captain in franchise history.
Tavares’ appointment as captain was announced to expectant fans as the lineup for the Leafs was introduced on the ice.
Ontario native Tavares joined the Leafs in free agency for the 2018-19 season. Prior to playing for his childhood favorite team, Tavares captained the New York Islanders for five seasons, between 2013 and 2018. In his first season centering the Leafs’ top line, Tavares tallied a career-high 88 points.
“It’s a real honor,” Tavares said, when he was told he would be captain of the Leafs. “I won’t ever take it for granted.”
Leafs head coach Mike Babcock spoke highly of Tavares’ leadership abilities during Leafs Training Camp.
“He’s a pro,” Babcock said to NHL.com. “So his approach in the offseason, his approach in how he eats, the approach in how he drinks, the approach how he treats his family, the approach that he just is. Leadership to me isn’t what you say, it’s what you do. When you pick a captain for a franchise you want everyone in the franchise to think they picked the captain and when you pick the right captain everyone thinks that.”
Before announcing Tavares’ captaincy to the public, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas, president Brendan Shanahan, and Babcock enlisted the help of Tavares’ wife, Aryne, and newborn son, Jace, to break the news to him.
Mitch Marner, Auston Matthews, and Morgan Rielly were all named alternate captains. Marner and Matthews will split the A across the season, with Marner expected to wear the letter for home games, and Matthews on the road.
Headline photo: @MapleLeafs
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