John Tavares Is the Right Choice to Captain the Toronto Maple Leafs

TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 2: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is named the new captain ahead of the season opener against the Ottawa Senators at the Scotiabank Arena on October 2, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - OCTOBER 2: John Tavares #91 of the Toronto Maple Leafs is named the new captain ahead of the season opener against the Ottawa Senators at the Scotiabank Arena on October 2, 2019 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by Mark Blinch/NHLI via Getty Images) /

With the Toronto Maple Leafs finally with a brand new captain, picking John Tavares in the role made the most sense now and going forward.

After weeks, months, and years of endless speculation, the Toronto Maple Leafs finally have decided on who will be the 25th captain in franchise history. John Tavares, just over a year after deciding to come home, will don the ‘C’ for the foreseeable future.

It has been a long time coming for a fanbase that has been anxious for the debacle to be over with, especially since the choice seemed pretty obvious. Even with recent events to consider, it appeared that Tavares was destined to take on the role when looking back on the lead-up to Wednesday nights’ reveal.

This is not to suggest he was the only candidate that deserved it because there were plenty of quality suitors they could have gone with. Along with Tavares, Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly each had convincing cases to be made that they could fulfill the opportunity well. No matter who they would have gone with, it was going to be met with a mostly positive response.

Now that responsibility has been given to Tavares, the team can focus on hockey and continue to build off the success the franchise has been experiencing the past few years. And quite frankly, that’s a big part of why Tavares was chosen to be captain in the end.

Veteran leading by example

Any captain of a hockey team is a guy who works hard, plays the game the right away, and leading by example both on and off the ice. This is especially true when a team is primarily composed of a young core aged 25 and under heading into the 2019-20 season. It can explain why the captain is typically an older, more established player with leadership experience and great with both the fans and media.

Reading that out loud sounds a lot like Tavares and that is a big part of why him being captain made the most sense. His primary focus is to win, get better every day, and take care of himself with what he eats. A youthful team must have a guy like that in a leadership role and they will no doubt feed off of it.

Tavares also has the type of personality that a team can gravitate towards because not only is he an exceptional player on the ice, but a great man off the ice. It’s critical for a player’s growth and development that this type of athlete is on the roster because it helps them improve as hockey players and as people.

This is especially true in the wake of the Matthews’ controversy a few weeks ago. Regardless of whether or not this debacle played a factor captaincy decision, now he can lean on Tavares for guidance in how to learn from it and grow to be a better version of himself. That’s critical for a young player who seems destined to one day take on the role himself; Matthews now has a point of reference to learn what it takes to be the de facto leader of a hockey club.

And he will be observing a guy who has ample experience being the captain, previously donning the ‘C’ for the New York Islanders from 2013-2018. It’s part of why Kyle Dubas knew he was the right guy to bring into the organization a little over a year ago.

The best choice going forward

If the Leafs wanted a home-grown talent who had been with the team the longest, they would have gone with Rielly. If they wanted a guy who was going the face of their franchise for a long time, the ‘C’ would have been given to Matthews. Both options have their benefits and either player would have represented the team well should they have been named the captain.

Instead, it went to a guy who chose to come to the team because he felt they had a great shot at glory for the next few years. He went out of his way to don the Blue and White because of the opportunity it would provide to play for such a franchise.

It says a lot about the type of person he is and that is another part of why Tavares was ultimately chosen. Rielly and Matthews had no control over them joining the Maple Leafs as they were drafted by the team. Tavares wanted to be there and win for the organization; that’s what you want in a leader, which Dubas recognized in the Mississauga native.

As one of the older players on the team, Tavares is the exact type of person that will be needed to lead this young team into the next half-decade. Having recently become a father, the timing couldn’t have been better as well since he has the mindset of a nurturer and giving guidance to the next generation of his family. And being extremely grateful for the opportunity he has been given is what you want people within the organization to feed off of.

When you put it all together, it made the most sense right now to have Tavares be the newest captain of the Leafs.

He is one of the older players on a team full of youth, he is great with the fans and the media, and leads by example in his play and lifestyle. He had experience as the captain before and can be a point of reference for the young leaders on the team to feed off of. And he’s a guy who wanted to be here, is appreciative of the chance to be a Leaf, and has experience in the role.

It’s a far cry from Dion Phaneuf, the previous captain, and fans will be in for a far different experience with Tavares donning the ‘C.’ Making this decision now was the right one for this season and for seasons to come.

Next. Some Toronto Maple Leafs 2019-20 Guarantees. dark

Perhaps someday Matthews will take over the role when Tavares is past his playing peak and in the twilight of his career. The San Jose Sharks have shown to give the role to players who earn their way into gaining the letter on their chest.

Until that happens, we can focus on hockey and cheering on a contending team with aspirations of achieving something special. After all, that’s what Tavares would want us to do.