Maple Leafs remain captain-less, unveil Matthews-less leadership core

Yahoo Canada Sports
Auston Matthews must wait on the captain’s patch. (Getty)
Auston Matthews must wait on the captain’s patch. (Getty)

Auston Matthews won’t wear the ‘C’ for the Toronto Maple Leafs this season. Or any other letter, for that matter.

Head coach Mike Babcock told TSN’s Darren Dreger that it will be Patrick Marleau, Morgan Reilly and newly-signed centre John Tavares wearing the assistant captain patches for the Maple Leafs, who have evidently decided against naming a standalone once again for this upcoming season.

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Babcock touted other Maple Leafs as part of a leadership he views as “very, very good.” He mentioned Nazem Kadri, Jake Gardiner and Ron Hainsey as one group, and Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander in another, while also giving a nod to Connor Brown and Zach Hyman, who “do it right every day.”

As he often does, Babcock compared the current situation in Toronto to the old days with the Detroit Red Wings. He explained that everyone, including the owner, general manager, players and the coach himself knew that Niklas Lidstrom and Henrik Zetterberg were the right candidates for the captaincy, and that he intends to allow a similar situation play out in Toronto.

The addition of Tavares — a long-time captain with the New York Islanders before joining via free agency — perhaps clouded the picture with regards to the Maple Leafs’ next captain, but it has always seemed certain that Matthews would eventually wear the letter for the blue and white.

Perhaps the Leafs are waiting to make that official when Matthews eventually agrees to the mega-extension he’s now eligible to sign.

Or for when his interactions with the media start to warm up just a touch.

The Leafs have been without a captain since Dion Phaneuf’s trade to the Ottawa Senators three seasons ago.

They remain fully capable of winning hockey games without one.

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