Maple Leafs name John Tavares captain ahead of season opener

Kyle CantlonNHL Editor

Through a crowd of qualified candidates, the hometown boy won out.

John Tavares was named the 25th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs on Wednesday, the team announced prior to its season opener against the Ottawa Senators.

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Toronto had gone without a captain for each of the last three campaigns, with Dion Phaneuf last rocking the ‘C’ for the Leafs during the 2015-16 season. It appeared to come down to JT, Morgan Rielly and Auston Matthews, with the former Islanders captain getting the nod in the end.

Alongside Tavares, Rielly will serve as one alternate captain, while Matthews and Mitch Marner will rotate wearing the “A” throughout the season. There was speculation Matthews’ recent disorderly conduct charge took him out of the running for the honour, but Leafs GM Kyle Dubas claims the decision was made well in advance of that news breaking.

In addition to the aforementioned names, Jake Muzzin, Zach Hyman and Frederik Andersen also participate in Toronto’s leadership meetings.

Tavares, who hails from Mississauga, Ont., returned “home” last summer after spending the first nine seasons of his career on Long Island. The 29-year-old tallied 47 goals and 88 points — both career-highs — during his first year with the Leafs.

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