Toronto Maple Leafs: Does Dion Phaneuf Deserve the Captaincy?

Francesco PiacenteContributor IIIJuly 5, 2012

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 19: Dion Phaneuf #3 of the Toronto Maple Leafs hits Jordan Caron #38 of the Boston Bruins at the TD Garden on March 19, 2012 in Boston, Massachusetts. The Bruins defeated the Maple Leafs 8-0. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

There has been controversy surrounding Dion Phaneuf ever since he was awarded the captaincy of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 2010. Many don't believe he is a good enough player to wear the C for the most storied franchise in hockey history.

Well, the honest question is, who is a better fit to wear it?

Think about that, and don't kid yourself in claiming that Jake Gardiner deserves the captaincy. He has had one good year in the NHL, and hasn't developed leadership qualities necessary to captain a team. Plus, the pressure of the captaincy, especially in Toronto, will most likely be to much for a player who only has a single season in the NHL under his belt, 

Phil Kessel? He may be their best offensive player, but you need a captain who leads by example in all zones and situations. Plus I don't feel as if Kessel is very vocal in the dressing room. That is speculation, but nonetheless, does anyone really disagree with me?

Michail Grabovski just signed a contract extension this year with the Leafs, and looks to be around for the long run. The second line center has a lot of heart and never seems to give up on plays. He would be an interesting option, but his lack of game-breaking impact (be it offensively or defensively) makes me see him as more of an assistant captain for the Leafs.

If he were willing to sign a long-term extension, I would think that Joffrey Lupul would be one of the top candidates for the Leafs' Captaincy. He is a point-per-game player that isn't afraid to go into the corners after the puck and his energy is endless.

He's not going to win the Selke any time soon, but he can hold his own against most players in his own end and is better than most think defensively. He is a vocal leader and already a fan favorite in Toronto.

With Lupul seemingly the most likely candidate to steal the C from Phaneuf, I still think that the blueliner should retain it.

He is not Mats Sundin or Doug Gilmour by any count, but the Leafs simply do not have any players of that calibre around. That being said, he is one of the top offensive defensemen in the NHL, having topped the 44-point mark five times in his seven year NHL career, including both 60-point and 20-goal seasons over that period. Thus far, he has been a three-time All Star (including this year) and a finalist for the Norris trophy.

Phaneuf is also one of the most feared hitters in the league, constantly laying down jaw-dropping hits. His play motivates his team, and while he can sometimes try to do a bit too much, more often than not, his team benefits from it. He is not afraid to speak his mind, and offers guidance to many of the Leafs' younger players.

He is a leader for the team both on and off the ice, and as such, should retain the Captaincy of the Toronto Maple Leafs.