Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Who will be the next Maple Leaf captain?

So will the Leafs will the captain vacancy this season? They one of about 5 teams that currently do not have a team captain. Personally, team captain is more of a tradition. I've always felt you don't need to wear a C to show leader ship. The Leafs went several seasons (1986-89) without a captain before appointing Rob Ramage. This is not an NHL record for going captainless. The Penguins went without one from 1968-73 and the Blackhawks stretch was 1970-75.

Last season the pickings were slim and it was obvious that some candidates might not be sticking around too long (e.g., Pavel Kubina, Nik Antropov, Alex Steen). Today the Leafs have a permanent GM who is not going anywhere real soon. Burke has brought in some players to provide leadership so it might be time to pick a new captain.

Luke Schenn

Schenn stood out in his rookie season, providing the Leafs with rock solid defense. He ranked first on the team in hits with 206 and third in blocked shots with 119. His age is an obvious concern, so it’s more likely he’ll be appointed captain in the near future.

Mike Komisarek

Komisarek once led the league in hits and ranked second in blocked shots. Burke obviously thinks he still has it in him after a disappointing season with the Montreal Canadiens. He may have to prove his worth as one of the league‘s top defensive defenseman again, but his leadership will never be in question. Since he is new to the team it may not go to him.

Francois Beauchemin

Like Komisarek, he has yet to skate for the Leafs. However, Beauchemin is a Burke favourite and brought to Toronto for a reason. He’s a veteran at 29, and will serve as a leader on a youthful Leafs team. He contributes in both ends of the rink and has a Stanley Cup ring to top it off. You can bet he’ll be considered as a potential candidate if the Leafs do decide to appoint a new captain next season.

Niklas Hagman

Hagman served as an alternate captain for the Leafs last season and may be ready to make the jump. He’s capable of playing on both the powerplay and penalty kill, and he will once again be relied upon for leadership. However, Hagman was not brought in by Burke, which may not work in his favour.

Tomas Kaberle

Kaberle is a fan favourite and has been with the Leafs his entire career so he might be the logical choice. However, he’s not a vocal leader and even if he were to lead by example, he lacks the defensive play to be considered one of the league’s top defensemen. A solid candidate, but not an ideal candidate.

Matt Stajan

At the start of last season he was mentioned as possible captain and he ended up having his best season although rather unspectacular. I'm not sure if the whispering about Stajan possibly being captain is just something being spread by the media or whether the speculation has some merit. He’s often criticized for his lack of physicality and balance on his skates. Stajan is underrated by a lot of Leafs fans but I'm not sure he is worthy of being named captain. Being a Ferguson draft pick will also not work in his favour.