Heard on Episode 4.2 of AFITC
When Maple Leaf training camp commenced over the weekend, something was missing. For the first time since 1986, the Maple Leafs roster included neither Wendel Clark, Doug Gilmour, nor Mats Sundin. Each of those three men represented the core of the leadership in the Maple Leaf dressing room for a period of time throughout the last twenty two years and now that leadership will have to come from a new source. But who?
Nobody on the current roster has the talent level, experience, leadership ability and tenure, to be considered a sound choice for the captain of any hockey team. A number of possibilities do exist, but none of the candidates possess all four of those aforementioned qualities.
For young players without experience, it often rubs older veteran players the wrong way when a player early in his career is constantly telling him how to play. Without top-level skill, a captain risks earning an “easier said than done” reputation among his teammates.
To be a true leader, a player needs to earn the respect of his teammates, something difficult for those in their first year with a club to do. Those without good leadership ability, well, I guess that’s really the ante required to get your name involved in a discussion for the captaincy.
Matt Stajan and Alex Steen have developed as good leaders and core veterans but neither are top tier players with enough tenure to be able to back up getting on older underperforming teammates.
Tomas Kaberle, now the longest serving and arguably the most talent player on the roster, doesn’t possess the drive and desire to be the mouthpiece for a team that gets as much media coverage as the Maple Leafs do.
Pavel Kubina and newcomer Jamal Mayers are both vocal leaders but in Kubina’s case, like Kaberle, probably doesn’t have the interest for answering to the media and Mayers has no tenure nor top-level skill.
At this point, the Leafs would be wise to opt for leadership by committee and rotate the C based on performance because clearly, it will take more than just one player if any success is expected this season. But hey, all that was just rigmarole.