The coveted position of Toronto Maple Leafs captain remains open and John Tavares is well aware of the weight it carries.
Since Tavares signed a seven-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July 2018, he’s been considered a prime candidate to wear the ‘C’ and represent the Stanley Cup ambitions this iteration of the team holds.
Tavares spoke about what the captaincy would mean to him and how he would try to be relatively unaffected by the additional accountability.
“You just don’t take something like that for granted,” Tavares said to Sportsnet’s Luke Fox. “There’s only so many in the league, and certainly for a franchise here like the Maple Leafs with its history and tradition, I don’t want to look at things differently just because you’re given a responsibility. You’re given that responsibility because of who you are and the way you’ve carried yourself to that point.
“You don’t let something like that change you. You want to be yourself, go out and play your game, do what you do. I know we’re gonna have a great one, whoever it is. I’ll support whoever it is.”
Prior to joining the Maple Leafs, Tavares was the captain of the New York Islanders for five seasons and served as the face of the franchise. Tavares said that he learned that leadership comes in several forms, and relying on your teammates is still an integral function of being a good captain.
The star center also made the case for Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly - both of whom are also considered leading candidates - as well as an argument for Mitch Marner, who remains unsigned as a restricted free agent.
“Morgan [Rielly], being here for as long as he has and his maturity level, you can see it in his game and how he carries himself off the ice — just very level-headed. Especially as a defenceman, a very tough position to play and the amount of load he carries.
“Auston’s presence, his talent, his ability, his drive to be one of the best players in the league is incredible.
“A guy like Mitchy has an incredible energy about him. Just brings the room to life. And the way he impacts the game in so many different areas and the way he plays it is so unique and pretty incredible.”
Tavares appears to be relatively unconcerned one way or another, and asked if he’d like to split the leadership duties with four assistants, as the Maple Leafs did in 2018-19, he provided his most compelling answer yet.
“That’s a hard thing to say. Does it make the difference between winning and losing? Really, no. It’s about the team that goes out there and works as a unit,” said Tavares.
“But when you do have a captain, you have someone everyone kinda looks to and sets the tone.”
It doesn’t appear that the Maple Leafs will be making a decision anytime soon, but Tavares seems ready to answer the call, or handle the season per usual, regardless of what management decides.
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