Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Do the Leafs need a Captain?

The Centre of the Hockey Universe has been without a permanate Captain since Mats Sundin last played with the Leafs in the 07-08 season. Last season several players on the team rotated the duty, but there was no official captain. Since Sundin left, the internet Hockey forums and Blogs have been alight with chatter on who should be captain, and the recent addition of Veteran Captain candidates Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin has resulted in two new frontrunners in the Captaincy sweepstakes.

Do the Leafs need a captain? and if so who should it be?

It is my belief that it is beneficial to all Hockey teams to have a permanant Captain. Having a Captain allows the team to have an Offical leader, someone who can guide the teams through the good times and the bad, someone who can montor the young players and revitalize the team after a bad loss.

A Captain should be experienced. He should be a natural leader, who has a commanding presence and is vocal in the dressing room. He should be well respected and liked by the team members, and the Coaches.

I see three people who could be potential captain : Tomas Kaberle, Francois Beauchemin and Mike Komisarek.

Kaberle is the longest serving current leaf, and is definately experienced enough to be captain. By all accounts he is well liked by all his team mates. My only issue with making Kaberle captain is his leadership qualities . What i mean is he does not seem to be a very vocal person, both Inside and outside of the dressing room, and personally I dont think this is very conducive to being the captain of a Hockey team.

This brings us to Beauchemin and Komisarek. Both are experienced veterans and both have been assistant captains on their previous teams. All indications are that they are well liked by their team mates, and appear to have good leadership qualities, but I am still hesitant to formally give my endorsement to either of them due to their recent arrival in Toronto.

I think it would be ill conceived and unfair to the other Leaf players to give someone the "C" who has yet to even play a Regular season game with the team. We have yet to see how either acts in the dressing room during the stressful Regular season, nor have we been able to see their leadership qualities during a lowpoint such a multi-game losing streak. Do they become vocal in the dressing room and offer constructive criticism or praise? or do they become reticent and ignore their teammates?.

If I was Ron Wilson at the beginning of the season I would make the three aformentioned players Assistant Captains and observe how they take up this role and utilize this new found position to energize and encourage the team. After 10 or 20 games if one player in particular stood out and excelled above the rest I would then make him Captain. But like Brain Burke said they should only be made captain if they can live up to and compare favorably to the great Leaf captains of yester-year. People like Sundin, Keon, Sittler and Hap Day, and if they cant live up to the task, Leaf Nation will be leaderless one again.

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