For the first time since February 9th, 2016, the Toronto Maple Leafs will be skating on the ice with a captain to lead them. When Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators, they didn’t replace him for the rest of that season. Or the one after that. Or the one after that. Or th- you get it.
Tonight however, they have a captain. A captain who grew up sleeping under Toronto Maple Leafs bed sheets. A captain that the Leafs tried to sign to an AHL contract before he was even drafted, a captain who suffered for years, missing the playoffs, playing for a team with no direction, wasting the prime years of a superstar, and then leaving that team to sign with the Maple Leafs.
John Tavares was named captain of the New York Islanders five years into is NHL career, and wore the “C” for five seasons. He tried valiantly to make the Islanders successful. Making stars out of his wingers, taking a discount on his contracts to leave cap room for the team to add more stars. They never helped him as much as he helped them so he came home.
John Tavares grew up to the left of Toronto, made a name for himself to the right of Toronto, and now sits downtown, captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Tavares joins an elite group of 24 captains that features twelve members who were inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame, ten have had their numbers retired by the team, and eight are featured on Legends Row outside the Scotiabank Arena, and six can count all three of those honours on their resume.
Maple Leafs captains
|John Ross Roach||1924-25||0|
|Charlie Conacher* '||1937-38||0|
|Syl Apps* ' ^||1940-43/45-48||3|
|Ted Kennedy* ' ^||1948-55/57||2|
|George Armstrong* ' ^||1957-1969||4|
|Dave Keon* ' ^||1969-1975||0|
|Darryl Sittler* ' ^||1975-79/80-82||0|
|Doug Gilmour* '||1994-97||0|
|Mats Sundin* ' ^||1997-2008||0|
Morgan Rielly is the permanent Alternate captain, and Mitch Marner & Auston Matthews will swap games wearing an A.
The Maple Leafs told Tavares he was captain in the best way possible.