The Toronto Maple Leafs have named John Tavares their new team captain. By the time the new captain took the ice on Wednesday’s season opener against the Ottawa Senators, the news surprised nobody.
But for a time there were theatrics about the decision, with Auston Matthews batted around as a possible captain. That did not come to pass, obviously, and the reasons are clear to anyone who’s read the news out of Arizona.
Tavares becomes the 25th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs and the first to rock the C since Dion Phaneuf did so. The Maple Leafs haven’t had a team captain since 2015-2016.
“We didn’t name a captain for a long time because we didn’t think it was obvious,” head coach Mike Babcock said Wednesday via The Athletic. “And then when we knew it was obvious – don’t get me wrong, we talked a ton about this. We talked to our players about it. We talked to our staff about it. We talked to our management team about it. And in the end we made the right decision for the Leafs.”
29-year-old Tavares does appear, for all intents and purposes, to be the right choice. He signed a seven-year deal to join his hometown club in 2018, joining as a free agent after an extensive stint as a New York Islander. He was captain of the squad from 2013 to his departure.
Tavares put up 88 points in 82 games last season, including a team-leading 47 goals.
Toronto also named defenceman Morgan Rielly as an alternate captain, while Mitch Marner and Matthews will rotate through as alternate captains through the season.
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