Toronto Maple Leafs Shouldn’t Name A Captain Next Year


Get ready for the debate.

With the Toronto Maple Leafs battling for the fifth overall draft pick (yes, they are battling to lose), the Leafs let-down year will spark many changes to the franchise, including some of their bigger name players getting the boot.

Among those stars are captain Dion Phaneuf, and when a team’s captain get’s dealt, most of the time the team will name another one. But in the Leafs case, no captain is the right call.

Who on this roster is worthy of the captaincy? Phaneuf did what he could as a top two defence man but he was never built to be ‘the guy’ on the backend or for his team.

Since being named the Leafs captain six years ago, he has logged 25:18, 25:17, 25:11 of ice time and  in the past two years, he has seen his ice time decrease to 23:34 last year and 23:39 this year while adding 171 points in 371 games in his career a Maple Leaf.

At the time in 2011, he was the only player on the Leafs roster worthy of the captaincy. Now – if traded, who would fill the void? I personally believe the next captain of the Leafs will be 21 year-old Morgan Rielly, but that is a lot of weight to put on a kid’s shoulder who will already be filling into Phaneuf’s role once he is dealt this off-season (yes, I strongly believe Phaneuf will not be a Leaf next year).

There is no leader on the Leafs like that of Blackhawks Jonathan Toews, Jets Andrew Laad, or even Predators captain Shea Weber – who Phaneuf used to be compared to when he came into the league. Those guys are born leaders and not only lead on the ice but also in the dressing room.

Toews was named captain of the Blackhawks at 20 years old, and has hung onto that title since and hoisted the Stanley Cup twice as captain.

The nickname teammates gave him is ‘Captain Serious’. The Blackhawks are always atop of the league in the standings and part of it is due to their strong roster, but, those cups wouldn’t have come without the leadership of Toews and little to none personality problems in the dressing room.

The Leafs – are full of personality problems. There has been rumours flying around about certain players getting into fights with each other and Phaneuf has done nothing about it.

Some candidates for the next Leafs captain consists of Rielly, Phil Kessel, Joffery Lupul and James Van Riemsdyk (JVR).

Phil Kessel, who leads the team with 58 points is the equivalent to Patrick Kane in Chicago. Kane won’t put up the points he does without his top line centre Toews. I’m not saying Kane isn’t an exceptional player because he is, but Toews is a big part of his success by doing all of the little things that make the big things happen.

Joffery Lupul has good leadership qualities and can be a top scorer when healthy – which is a rarity due to his injury problems. But, like Phaneuf, Lupul will most likely be shipped out this summer.

Van Riemsdyk is in second place behind Kessel for the team lead in points with 55 – but like Kessel, JVR cannot lead a team as the captain. He would be a great assistant captain, as he leads with his play but would not be ‘the go to guy’

Over the next year or two – the Leafs should roll four assistant captains and not even bother with a captain. James Van Riemsdyk, Morgan Rielly, Tyler Bozak (if he is still a Leaf) and Stephane Robidas are good assistant captain candidates and once Rielly is mature enough – give him the C and sign him to a nice big contract.

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