On a recent episode of the Steve Dangle Podcast, host Adam Wylde said that he believes that come this October, Auston Matthews will be the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
The Steve Dangle Podcast crew does a lot of good things and runs an excellent show, but I vehemently disagree with Wylde in this instance. John Tavares is the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and there is no acceptable scenario in which Tavares loses his C until his time in Toronto comes to a close.
Matthews will be an unrestricted free agent in 2024 and Tavares will be one in 2025, so Tavares will be captain until after Matthews’ contract expires. The Leafs made the correct decision when they gave Tavares the captaincy and it would be wrong to ask him to give it up to anyone.
Tavares has done everything right since choosing to come to the Leafs in free agency (for a discount by the way). He’s been everything that a hockey fan would want their captain to be and in a market like Toronto, that means everything.
Who Should be the Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?
I’m gonna lead this off by saying this: I don’t think Auston Matthews’ long-term future in Toronto is dependent on the letter he has on his chest. I’ve seen nothing in the last six years that make me believe that Matthews even cares about such a thing. He’s not even wearing the A every night.
Wylde gave this take near the 1:20:00 mark of the episode during the SDP’s “press conference” segment in which they answer questions from fans of the show.
He doesn’t make a case for Tavares to be traded or anything like that. He describes a peaceful transition for the Captaincy and compares it to what the Sharks have done with Patrick Marleau and Joe Thornton.
I have an issue with this comparison.
Firstly, the Sharks have had six different captains since 2000, the Leafs have had three. The Leafs aren’t been an organization that just gives the C to somebody on a whim.
Also, when Joe Thornton lost the C, it was a media circus. A San Jose media circus. Could you imagine how the Toronto media would react if local boy John Tavares wasn’t the captain anymore, no matter what the circumstances were?
John Tavares came to Toronto at a discount. He came home after so many players before him didn’t. If the Leafs took the C from him after everything he’s done, how does that make the Leafs look?
I don’t think Matthews even “needs” the C right now to be honest. Nathan MacKinnon doesn’t need it. Jonathan Huberdeau doesn’t need it, Johnny Gaudreau doesn’t need it.
Call me old-fashioned, but the idea that the captain of the team should be the best player is just wrong. The Capitals made Ovechkin captain after they traded Chris Clark. It was too soon. Ovechkin was 24 years old then just like Auston Matthews is now.
I’m not going to talk about any so-called “decline” of Tavares’ play. Even if he was declining, he’s still the best possible captain the Leafs could have right now. He’s a leader. To this point, Auston Matthews hasn’t shown that he can be a leader. The only thing that Auston Matthews is leading is the Richard Race.
Obviously, I love Auston Matthews. So does everybody else who writes for this website.
Being the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs opens Matthews’ up to a whole new layer of criticism from Canadian and American media. If he took the captaincy from Tavares that would only be a distraction for the team. If the Leafs come up short in the playoffs again, a captaincy switch would be yet another black cloud over the organization.