The ever-controversial Toronto Maple Leafs and their GM have recently been quoted saying that they will most likely go without a captain again this year, and keep three alternate captains for the 2017/18 season. I know this may come as a shock, but this is yet another bad decision for the Leafs moving forward. No, I don’t think it will keep them out of the playoffs, and I don’t think it is the worst possible scenario for them. It could, however, lead to problems, when a certain 19 year old stud decides he is the right man for the job, and he is. Auston Matthews is a destined superstar. He comes right out of the gates with a 69 point season, plenty of two-way play, and a determination to get Toronto back to the playoffs. A tough first round matchup knocked them out early, but that fought, hard. They stepped behind Matthews and let him, along with the rest of the young talent on that team, do everything they could to advance them past the number one seed Capital, to no avail.
That doesn’t mean he doesn’t have what it takes, it means that he’s ready. Show leadership, and the rest will come, and he did just that. Matthews does nothing but what is in the best interest of the team, and his age should not factor into a decision about Captaincy in slightest. If anything, it should be on the pros list, considering he’s already brought up the idea of being a Leaf for life. So why not? Why can’t the second year prodigy out of San Ramon make something happen for a franchise that has been looking for a promising figure for well over a decade?
To say he is rookie of the year is a given, and that’s from a guy who rode the coattails of Patrik (Hatrik) Laine all season, but the overall complete game that Matthews plays is undeniably great. He’s gifted on both ends of the ice, not to mention the kid is a god damn freight train. At 6’3″, 215 pounds, he’s a scary combination of speed, size, and hands quicker than the eyes can pick up on. I.e. his goal against Braden Holtby that dropped right in front of the crease, and in less than a second, Auston had the puck forehand, backhand, and in the net.
For all of these reasons and more, it is pointless to put off the inevitable at this point, especially for a city like Toronto, that will embrace the youngster, and hold him accountable in the same light. He will be the Captain of that team, so why wait? If it’s leadership you’re lacking, there’s your guy. Think toughness is a problem? Matthews is a wrecking ball. Don’t even get me started on production, because, we know who does that too. Every team has certain regrets years after dilemmas like this, and the Maple Leafs can avoid that with the fairly easy decision of solidifying their place, their captain, and the overall direction of the club. The time for Auston Matthews is right now.