After going the entire 2016-17 NHL season without a captain, the Toronto Maple Leafs will most likely go another season without a “C” on someones chest, according to general manager Lou Lamoriello.
Lamoriello told TSN’s Pierre LeBrun they are in no hurry to name a captain:
“Right now that isn’t something in the forefront. I think that we’ve had tremendous leadership this year with a lot of the young players and I don’t think that right now is something that is on the forefront nor is being considered at this point. … I would not be surprised if we did not have a captain next year.”
After trading Dion Phaneuf during the 2015-16 NHL season, the Maple Leafs have opted to not have a captain, instead going with 4 alternate captains. This past season, Leo Komarov, Morgan Rielly, Tyler Bozak, and Matt Hunwick all served as alternate captains.
While all of those would be options to be named captain, the Maple Leafs roster is filled with young, upcoming stars who could be considered future candidates to fill the vacancy.
Obviously rookie sensation and budding superstar Auston Matthews is a clear candidate for the captaincy, but at 19 years old the Leafs may feel he needs more time to grow as a player, maybe serving as an alternate captain first. The first overall pick of the 2015 NHL Entry Draft, Connor McDavid, made the jump from rookie to captain and led his team to a playoff spot, so it is not completely out of the question that he could handle it. When asked earlier in the season, Matthews said he does not think about it, only focusing on hockey.
“Not at all,” Matthews said when we asked whether he thinks about the possibility of being the Leafs captain. “I just go play hockey and that’s never been on my mind.”
Whether Matthews gets the nod, or one of the current alternates, most likely Rielly, the Leafs are not afraid to enter next season without a captain.