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Who is the next Leaf captain: Lupul or Kadri?

It’s funny.  I could be really off base here, but I have this nagging feeling that the Leafs will have a new captain at some point fairly soon.  I don't mean tomorrow, or even next season necessarily.  But at some point in the foreseeable future.

Does that mean that Phaneuf will be traded?  That I don’t know.  But I just have this sense that as the team evolves, Carlyle may want to look around the dressing room and take a bigger role in determining who the real leader on this club is. (For the record, I of course recognize that Phaneuf is a solid NHL'er.  I'm still not sure he is a number-one defenseman on an elite team, but he's the best we have right now, for sure.   I'm talking, though, about an issue that goes beyond how "good" an NHL player he is...)

Let’s not kid ourselves, leadership is important.  Having the right guy in charge of the dressing and being the guy that others follow on the ice means something.  It just does.  I can’t prove it with statistics, but it does.

I go back to my youth, in the early '60s, and well remember legendary captains like Pierre Pilotte in Chicago, Jean Beliveau in Montreal.  Those were real old-time captains in the best sense.  Now, I well understand that there have been times in Leaf history that the captaincy was not a big deal.  I don’t think players particularly followed Rick Vaive, for example, in the early and mid 1980s.  Vaive was a great goal-scorer who, as the years went on, sacrificed his body for the teams he played for in front of the opposition net.  He was a player I liked.  But in his Toronto years he was young, not fully mature and again, not a real leader, I don’t believe.  He ended up losing the captaincy.

Other Leaf captains have ben important, however.  Going back to the late 1950s, George Armstrong was absolutely the ship’s rudder.  He kept the players from killing Punch Imlach, the demanding and prickly coach.  And in turn, he kept Imlach from being even worse on—and with—the players.  And he was, in hockey terms, a true warrior on the ice.  He was the definition of a guy who fought for loose pucks and was rugged along the boards.

Dave Keon (seen with Armstrong at right after the Leafs won the Cup in the spring of 1963) was not the most popular guy in his later years in the Leaf dressing room, but he sure  wore the “C” proudly and led on the ice by his relentless example.  I always remember the late, great broadcaster Foster Hewitt saying, during a game late in the awful 1972-’73 Maple Leaf season, “where would this team be without Dave Keon?”. He was right on the money and said what many Leaf fans were thinking.

Darryl Sittler was the most popular Leaf of the later ‘70s, and again, led by sheer will— along with immense kill.  He was the leader of the group in every sense, on and off the ice.

In the ‘90s, Wendel Clark and Doug Gilmour wore the “C”, and both have gone down as two of the more inspirational Leafs in recent memory.

For years, Mats Sundin (honoured, of course, this past weekend at the ACC before the Leafs beat the Bruins) left many Leaf fans wanting more, but I will never question that he cared, or that he did indeed lead.  He led us to two 'final-four' appearances, and but for what I still consider an all-time fluke, we would have faced the Wings in the finals in 2002 with Sundin as our unquestioned leader.

Right now, Dion Phaneuf is our captain.  Some of you may recall that I asked the question months ago, before this season ever started, “Do the Leafs have an identity?”.

While the team has had some success this season at times, and we are definitely edgier and harder to play against most of the time, I’m still not sure we have that elusive identity that I’d like to see.  Maybe you feel differently.

Is Phaneuf the “problem”?  I wouldn't say that, though I’ve never been fully comfortable with him in that captain's role.  Maybe I just haven’t embraced him enough.  If he was wearing an “A”, sure.  That picture works OK for me.  But the “C”?  I simply don’t see it.

Of course none of us is in the dressing room.  I realize that.  I have no idea if this guy is the most inspirational captain and leader around.  But after a few years of watching him in this role, again I say it: I’m left wondering who really leads our team.

I thought it was absurd when the Avalanche named Landeskog as captain at the age of 19 or 20 or whatever it was.  Maybe it was a brilliant stroke.  But I think even a young player earmarked for  greatness and with impressive attributes is not ready to lead a team made up of men with more life experience than a 20 year-old could possibly have.

Now Bobby Clarke (left) proved me wrong when the Flyers named him captain in the early 1970s.  I can’t remember if he was 22 or 23 years old.  But he was really young at the time.  That set a whole new trend in motion- of considering young, emerging players for what had always been, in hockey, a role held by more senior statesmen in almost all cases. (I'm trying to remember, but I think Clarke replaced veteran defenseman Ed Van Impe as team captain, though Van Impe stayed with the team for the rest of his career.)

Here in Toronto,  I believe we will soon reach a point where Carlyle and/or Nonis will have to look at the captaincy.  Not because Phaneuf is a “bad” captain.  Maybe it's because I feel he was given the title without really earning it first- and getting it without earning it does not, in my mind, prove to me he is the real leader of the Leafs.  So I think some day, not too far into the future, the Leafs will look at someone else to take the reins. (By the way, I know a lot of you like Dion, and very much like the way he plays and see his value, so by all means take this opportunity to 'defend' him, if you feel I'm being unfair in some way.)

Who will that potential new captain be?  If they go with experience, it will be Lupul.  If they go with young, cheeky, cocky and edgy, it would be Kadri.

I’m saying we will have a new captain by 2014-’15, if not sooner.

If I’m right, who do you think it will be—and why?  And if you think I'm way off-base, I'll likely hear from you!


If there are some recent posts you might be interested in checking out, here are some links:

  • Gradings the Leafs Part I  (goalies and defence)
  • Grading the Leafs Part II (the forwards)


  1. I really have a hard time commenting on leadership issues so to speak (so now I am going to comment on them). As we aren't in the dressing room we really don't know what goes on there. We get media reports and innuendo but even they are not privy to the inner sactums. I have no idea whether Dion is a good captain or not. After last years disaster, it would appear they have a lack of leadership but I really don't know.

    I do agree that there could be a new captain but I wouldn't be in a rush to do it just yet. I like where Kadri has gone this year and I could really see him being captain in the future but it should be at least 2-3 years from now. Why rush it. Let him prove it for more than 32 games. Phanuef has 1 year left after this year and I wouldn't be shocked if he gets traded before it is up. Until then Dion is captain and he should remain captain until it is a certifiable, undisputable fact that he is not the leader of this team. Is he the best dman out there? No, but he does play a lot of hard minutes without much help in the form of another top 2 guy. As you have said in the past Michael this is a learning year. Let's just sit back and wait to see what develops.

  2. Thanks Willbur. To be clear, I'm not saying the Leafs should make a move now. I'm suggesting this will be something that the brass may discuss privately and would consider. The timing? I don't know. I would never consider making Kadri, for example, the captain next season. But I could see Lupul with the "C" by the following season...

    1. If the goal is to make Kadri the captain and I do think he could be (I would like him to be), there really is no point in making Lupul a sort of interm captain. Lupul has a contract for 5 more years after this so if you make him captain for next year then Kadri is waiting for a while.

      I think the next captain should be captain for as long as he is a Leaf. I think I would wait until after next year and if Kadri has proven he can handle it, he would be my guy.

  3. It's interesting how this topic has emerged this year. Not out of the blue but somewhat unexpected. We all accepted Phaneuf beeing captain because everyone thought he was our stud D-man, to go along with his brash attitude and beeing known for turning up the volume on the locker room radio.

    Then we started to see he wasn't the stud we thought and was not very good with a microphone in front of him (a bit better than Kessel though).

    I read or heard somewhere a fantastic line: "Just because you ARE a character, doesn't mean you HAVE any." I'm not saying he doesn't have character, I'm saying that just because he's a good D-man and is sort of flashy and confident, doens't make him a leader or captain.

    Of course this is all assuming he is in the locker room what we see on television and read in the papers.

    I don't think Kadri should be captain... yet. They should continue to let him learn the NHL game, get to be a true NHLer. As you've said "just let him play". Unecessary pressure would hurt Kadri. He seems to be those players who needs a little extra time to develop, so the "C" could come, but not just yet.

    If I had to choose a player right now for new captain it would be Lupul. For all the reasons already stated.

    To keep the discussion going, I'll throw out a name: John Michael Liles. He seems to be a solid guy. Seems to have character (took his time in the press box like a man and never said a word). He's a veteran guy with knowledge, a good player, good with the media and seems to be liked in the room and organization.

  4. I'm not sure, but just based on his appearance on the bench and demeanor on the ice, I think he's the perfect captain to establish an identity. On the ice he's a glowering, intense competitor. I would think that his intensity on the ice is precisely what we should want in a captain for hockey purposes. Then when off the ice Phaneuf seems like a different person, an affable humorous guy.

    I don't know if you remember the video from the last all-star game when Phaneuf was being interviewed in the lobby and Kessel walks buy, and Phaneuf teases Kessel about his cookie consumption with a big grin. Or in an interview with Kadri earlier this season you can hear Phaneuf in the background yelling "Nazem the Dream!".

    His combination of a fiery on-ice demeanor and the laid back off-ice persona, would seem to be the ideal mix for a captain on any team.

  5. What has Lupul done to deserve the captaincy?

  6. Agreed on Kadri, portuguese leaf. As I mentioned to Willbur, I would certainly not consider Kadri as anything other than a guy who needs to continue to develop his game for the next while. That said, I included his name today not simply because he is "playing well" currently, but because teams have, for years now (going back, as I wrote, to Bobby Clarke) often looked to emerging young players to lead the room. I just wondered if Kadri might be that "guy" here, sooner than we might normally think.

    Liles is an interesting name. Maybe his own future is not secure enough (will he be moved at some point, etc...) for the Leafs to ever consider that?

    I do think Phaneuf is the man, and will likely stay in place because it would be too much of a circus in Toronto to make the kind of move I'm throwing out there for discussion. But that doesn't mean it would not be discussed internally at some point.

    Thanks, portuguese leaf.

  7. I may see things a bit differently, mapleleafmjt, but I absolutely respect your view here. That's why I said in the post, if you like Phaneuf as a player and captain, express that view. You did it well. Thanks.

  8. I've always thought that a team captain should be a veteran player who leads by example, first and foremost. Some have that undeniable leadership quality more than others (Mark Messier comes to mind), but I think that there are intangibles that a proven veteran has much more than a young star (or any star player for that matter). As much as Sidney Crosby has grown into his role as captain, and he definitely showed the traits necessary early, I didn't think it was right for him to be annoited so young. I am not in an NHL locker room any more than anyone else on this blog, but I just don't see warriors who have been around 12-15 years looking to a 19 year old kid for anything other than to pick up the dinner check.

    As it applies to the Leafs, I was troubled by Phaneuf's captaincy like many others. It just felt like they were trying to force it. Here was a legitimate "star" name added to a roster with a real dearth of marketable names, cocky and sure of himself for sure, and it seemed as though giving him the "C" was a throw-in to a long-term contract as a franchise cornerstone when a foundation had not yet been laid for the team.

    Phaneuf has done an okay job I suppose, again I'm not on the inside to know this either. I do suspect that with a little truth serum he might even admit that he never asked for or wanted the captaincy anyway.

    I agree with Wilbur's sentiment, no one should be given this role on an interim basis. If it is Lupul or anyone else it should be because the team wholeheartedly believes in that player as captain, and the job should be his to keep until and unless he proves he does not deserve it. As for Lupul particularly, from what I have seen he does possess the qualities needed. It's far too soon to even think about Kadri like this, and that is no knock on him. He's a young player whose situation has produced millions of words among journalists hawkeyeing his development. So just as I felt with that development, lets keep up the baby steps as his role in the NHL evolves.

  9. A lot of people have expressed their admiration for what they see Lupul's leadership skills in this space in the past, Leafer1984. If some of them visit today, I'll let them outline their rationale better than I can. My sense is many see the veteran winger as someone with character, who has been through and come back from a lot in his career, and also brings a lot of maturity and experience and is an intense competitor who hates to lose.

  10. Certainly agree on Kadri, Pete, as I mentioned to Wilbur and portuguese leaf. I just thought it would be an interesting conversation to have. (Again, we need only look at the Avalanche and how they named a kid as captain; very different hockey market, I well realize...)

    I want to be clear: I'm not knocking Phaneuf. Very good player. I'm just raising what I think is a fair question. Will he be the "right" guy to lead this team when they are actually a "contender"? And I'm not sure he is. But I'm open to hearing why I'm wrong.

  11. I don't think Lupul has really distance himself from the rest of the team enough to deserve the C. I'm probably in the minority hear but I think Kadri would be ready next year. Crosby, and Toews were both captains at 20ish and won the Cup shortly, thereafter. Kadri is the type of hard-nosed power forward the Leafs have been lacking for years. I think we can all agree that this team is best when we play with an edge and he's the edgiest guy we have.

  12. I decided to write a comment without reading anyone else's perspective yet... I think I would get even more 'long-winded' on this topic if I had any more motivation than you've given me with your interesting proposal, Michael!

    With the arrival and naming of Phaneuf as captain, I felt as though an ‘identity’ for the team was being ‘parachuted into place’ and artificially superimposed upon the team. It may well be, as you indicated Michael, that there is a sense of disconnect for the players who never had the time and shared experience to (what I call) ‘organically’ recognize his leadership through a time of team growth and shared identity development that Phaneuf, then, would be seen to best represent internally and externally.

    It seems like Burke said, “this is what we’re gonna be” to outside observers and then imposed that upon players in the lineup who did not yet have that identity (while sending mixed messages bringing in players like Lombardi and Connolly – even if we know that Lombardi got us Franson, who is now starting to show signs that he can be harder on the puck than he showed last season). In all this, I don’t blame Phaneuf for the way he plays or how that was the ‘brand’ Burke was engendering, I just think he was groomed for the role on the job, without the full support of all the players (and before the advent of Carlyle, who had no say in the captaincy) and so, he MAY not be the guy who can truly lead this team past the transition to what the team we will be.

    From the long term management perspective, I can see the reasoning behind these moves, though I wonder if Dion can survive a transition to a leadership change that is being or becoming recognized in a more ‘organic’ way. In the short term, it would appear that Lupul is the guy, but if we wait a bit longer, it could be Kadri (for the same reasons that it was Gilmour after Clark) – the guy has an intensity and tenacity that matches his skill and when he puts it all together, it will be special.

    Your mention of Rick Vaive’s captaincy is most interesting because he kind of ‘parachuted in’ to the role and though I appreciated his skill, that era seemed as disjointed as the start of the Phaneuf era. Dion has grown in the role, but he doesn’t seem to ‘capture the imagination’ and that may well be just what we (and the players) really need. Would he have to leave or could he accept an “A” (without having to leave and then return like Wendel)?

    I think you’ve identified an interesting sub-plot in Leafland, and that congeals part of my thinking that, as valuable as he is as a player to this team, he might be part of an unexpected trade precisely because it might be time for an ‘organically grown’ captain to capture our hearts and imaginations - Someone who is recognized by all to be ‘the guy’ that the team and the fans know is the leader.

    Today, that is probably Lupul… in a year or two, it could be Kadri (if he keeps growing the way we’ve seen since his arrival on our radar). If a trade happened soon (or in the offseason) would we wait for a new captain to become obvious, or go with Lupul and give Kadri an “A” to grow into the leadership role, without all the responsibility at such a young age in such a market?!

    Thanks for 'instigating' such an invigorating thought, Michael! Perhaps I’ve merely restated your article as I thought it through, but it was an enjoyable exercise for me, nonetheless. Off to read the other comments now!

  13. I'm ok with Phaneuf as the captain.

    I like Lupul and believe he is a natural leader but there is a reason managment couldn't pick him as a captain. Lupul has a horrible history with injuires. Can you pick a captain who is out for so many games? Months and years at a time? I don't think so. The media would see the problems with that on day one. Perhaps Lupul could be captain but only if Phaneuf was traded and no longer with the team.

    Kadri? I hope not any time soon. Let the kid just focus on perfecting his game in the NHL for few years. Maybe after that, but there is a problem. The captain often deals with the referees. Kadri is becoming on ice leader, but he is young and has that cocky attitude, which might not be the best for dealing with the referees. An elder statesmen is better suited to that role.

    This is a question better suited for a few years from now when we have a better sense of the team's future and who will be here for the long haul.

  14. I hear you, Anon, and that's partly why I raise the issue today. It's not to knock Dion, simply to ask the question who would perhaps be the truly best guy to help lead this franchise over the next few years, once we're ready to really compete for something.

  15. A well thought-through comment, as always, InTimeFor62. I'll let those thoughtful comments stand on their own merit, as you raise issues from a very fair and broad perspective, without in any way suggesting Dion has done less than his best at the job he was prematurely (in my mind) handed. Thank you.

  16. I understand your perspective, DP. I always enjoy hearing your view on these things. I do wonder, though, if a franchise that has been largely woeful for almost a decade can afford to wait a few more years to see what direction we're going in.

    At some point, a leader will have to take us in that direction- and I don't mean just a GM, but a fiery on-ice guy that teammates will actually follow. I'm just not sure we have that now and when we are actually a really good team, we may need an infusion of leadership. We'll see, I guess.

  17. One other thing on this captain discussion that I think would be a good question to ask is, what do people want in a captain? I think you probably have to come up with some sot of answer to that before deciding whether Dion or someone else should be captain.

  18. Fair point, mapleleafmjt. One thing I've noted here many times, for me, it is a guy that other players actually listen to- and actually follow. I don't have that feeling with Dion's captaincy, but as others have noted here, we're not "in the room".

  19. Hi Michael,

    Interesting post. Had you not have brought it up, I'm not sure I would have considered this. From day one, I questioned Ron Wilson's decision to name Dion Phaneuf Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Dion is a true competitor, there's no question about that, but he just doesn't do it for me as Captain. Also, this decision was Ron Wilson's. And in my humble opinion, the Leafs need to rid themselves of everything Ron Wilson.

    Here's my guage as to who should Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs: Would I wear a Jersey with Player X's name on the back. For what it's worth, I've wanted to buy a Leafs Jersey for years, but there simply hasn't been a player worthy of owning his Jersey. I wouldn't wear a Sundin jersey, I damn certain wouldn't wear a Kessel Jersey, and I won't wear a Phaneuf Jersey.

    Here's who gets my vote: Joffrey Lupul

    Lupul went a point per game last year, so it's clear he's a front line player. We have him signed for 5 years, so we're obviously committed. But for me, he just has that leadership air about him. He's a smart guy, well spoken, and he's clearly well respected by teammates (check out the comments after the Winnipeg game).

    Astonishingly, after missing 20 something games this year, he jumps right back into the lineup, and scores on his first shift! You could feel his energy. It was palpable. I was inspired. I haven't had a player make me feel that way since, well (sacrilege, I know), Wendel. There was something in Lupul's eyes that just said - This is MY team, and we don't roll over for anyone.

    If he keeps going like this, for me, it's a no-brainer. Prior to the start of the 2013-2014 season (when things are quiet in Leaf land), Joffrey Lupul should be named the next Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

  20. I hope Kadri is eventually captain. Nothing against Dion, but he hasn't always been "that guy" and I just really like what Kadri can bring to the table. He's so tenacious, fearless, and all over the ice on every shift. He's almost as noticeable without the puck as he is with the puck.

  21. We (as fans) of course don't get to make these decisions, LT73, but I think it's a discussion point in a lot of people's minds, and I thought it was timely to have this question to bat around today. Some asked for a clarification as to why Lupul would be considered, and why Phaneuf maybe isn't the right fit. You've certianly raised some of the reasons and a rationale as to why it could happen. Thanks LT73.

  22. I'm willing to bet that more than a few Leaf fans might project Kadri as a future captain, Anon. Again, folks may be carried away by his very impressive performance this season, but he does seem to possess some of the qualities that would make for a Leaf captain, including an edge to his game.

  23. As good as Phaneuf is as a player, and as much as I wanted him to be everything that Burke pegged him to be when he traded for him and made him captain, after a few years I just don't know if he is best in that role. Just from dealing with media and his charisma, he just doesn't seem like he would be the best vocal leader in a room where the team is a lot of youth and might benefit from that kind of leader.

    I have for a long while thought that Lupul is the captain in waiting. He is loved by the fans, he has the charisma and ability to deal with media well that seems like he'd be well suited for the job. With a 5 year deal in place and more experience in the league than a lot of the Leafs, he seems like the best option.

    I like the idea of getting Kadri in there, and he has proven that he can take a brunt of the offensive responsibility, but I don't know if I would hang my hat on him as a captain quite yet. I'd like to see him deal with a bit more at an NHL level and see how he reacts, as well as get signed with the team beyond this year.

    Just going to throw this out there, but on the basis of being decently outspoken, young, talented, and with the team for the while, how about JvR as another candidate that could take on a leadership stance?

  24. I think it's much too early to think about Kadri being in a leadership role. He hasn't proved himself yet. A great short season in the NHL isn't indicative that he has staying power or the leadership skills that are required to lead a team. It isnt about goal scoring.He's young and he has a lot to learn himself. The C is not issued to the most popular player. There is a great deal that goes on behind the scenes to earn the C. In my opinion, Kadri still needs guidance and nurturing as a player.

  25. I think that's what some of us are asking today dizzard, and not in a highly critical way- is Dion the best fit as captain? I'm certainly not suggesting something is afoot right now, the organization has bigger issues to deal with (like trying to make the playoffs for the first time in almost a decade...) but it has been interesting to see what everyone thinks on the subject. No question van Riemsdyk is a nice young player. Not sure about his leadership capabilities. Like Kadri, he is awfully young. Some will like the notion that Kadri, while young, is feisty and also "homegrown"! Thanks for chiming in, dizzard.

  26. All good points about Kadri, Anon. I agree there is much more than points and popularity in the equation here. But remember, too, I'm talking about 2014-'15, not today. I'm just blue-skying about what could or might be and by then, Kadri (and I'm just using him as a possible example) will be older than many NHL captains were or are when they took on the task. Thanks Anon.

  27. Hi Michael,

    I have been waiting for your post on this and I gather that you are somewhat more supportive of Phaneuf than I am. As much as my speculation goes, "being outside of the room, or not on the bench", etc. I feel that he really does not have what it takes to be a true leader. I am not questioning his playing ability and that can be left for another day, I just don't think he is captain materials.

    I have spoken at length on many of my other posts and will not reharsh them here but will provide a quick view point. First, there is an inherit fault in how he attained this role. A role that InTimeFor62 aptly pointed out being "parachuted" into the position. Leadership comes with respect and respect is earned and never given. Burke did a huge injustice by anointing him almost immediately upon arrival. From Burke's initial statement for the appointment, he laud Phaneuf's take charge attitude; example being one that waltz into the room and turning up the music without a care. To me that is just arrogance. Leadership is about respecting and caring about the people you lead, whether their taste in music, defending them in front of the mic or come to their aid on the ice.

    From an observer's point of view, he is has not done this. To me he seems to have that chip on his shoulder arrogance. A mini Burke attitude irrelevant of whether people agrees with him or not. That's not leadership. That's dictatorship. Dictatorship doesn't elevate anyone. Doesn't motivate. Doesn't inspire.

    From my memory, the last true leader on the Leafs was Gary Roberts. He exuded all the virtue of someone who elevated everyone around him. His will and determination can be seen on every shift. His inspiration can so easily seen during the 2002 run.

    As for today's Leaf's roster. If I had to pick, I would pick Lupul. Say what you will but you cannot deny the way he played upon returning from injury. The way he singlehandedly changed the tone of the Winnipeg game. A game where in 2 shifts showed every Leafs that it was not acceptable to lose.

    As for Kadri, I don't think he should even be considered at this point although I like his combative nature. Perhaps in the distance future, but as of now, 30 games into a full season to be anointed would be akin to the Phaneuf's mistake.

  28. I wanted to trigger some strong debate today, and the post did that. I can't argue with much of what you said today Lukas. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  29. I think Phaneuf is just fine as Captain - though I wish he'd stop wearing that Red Bull cap and get a Leafs' one. That bugs me.
    As you point out, we have no idea what's going on in the locker room, so all of us are really in the dark about Dion's leadership. I've always felt he was given the position as an indication of the kind of player Burke wanted on the team, and to hopefully lead the others by example. I think he does that. Game in, game out, he plays the most minutes against the toughest lines, and is far and away the most rugged guy we've got. he makes sure any liberties taken with our smaller guys are paid for, but doesn't get involved in pointless fights that take him off the ice. He doesn't take stupid penalties. Sure, he makes mistakes, but so does every other defenceman in the league - even the all-stars. On the ice, his intensity never flags, and at the games you can hear him egging the other guys on. What more could a fan expect? He may not be the most loquacious guy on camera, but so what? The TO press have to be handled carefully - we all know they're quick to anoint a new saviour and just as quick to take him down. (By the way, I met him off-ice once, and he was well-spoken, funny and down to earth).
    Kadri? It's a wee bit early, I'd say. Like about two years - two full years. Then maybe an "A". Love his game, but it's only been two months! Lupul? One of my faves, but again - he hasn't managed to get through a full season here. Definitely an "A", though.
    If a trade happens - and I agree it's a possibility - it will be because it will theoretically make our team better, not for leadership issues. But it's hard for me to see how our D gets better by removing Phaneuf from the mix. Who's going to move up? Kostka, Holzer, Komisarek? They're fine, but they're not even close.
    Toronto fans seem to be rarely satisfied, and I've questioned Phaneuf's leadership in the past. But I now think the problem was more in the players we had, many of whom seemed unwilling to get in there and muck. (It's one of the reasons I'm still not sold on Jake Gardiner, despite his obvious talents. He looked very minor-league and out of his depth against the Bruins).
    It's a different team this year, as we've often been told, and I think it's one that's well represented by Phaneuf as its Captain.

  30. The only thing I can really say on this is, wait until the Leafs make the playoffs, then we'll see what kind of leader and warrior our captain is. We all know that's where legends are born, that's where players like Wendel, Dougie, Tucker, Roberts, etc., made their name, they were playoff warriors. I can't judge Phaneuf yet, ask me in June.

  31. Your views are are welcome here, Gerund O'- thanks for posting!

  32. Thanks fog. Your criteria may apply not just in terms of Phaneuf's leadership, or the leadership abilities of other players but with regard to how the Leafs, individually and as a team, handle the demands of a playoff run.

  33. Thanks for the story Michael. A few thoughts that came up for me:

    1. The perception of Phaneuf from media and fans reminds me of the perception of Sundin in the first half of his captaincy. Fans and Press don't get to see what really happens inside the room as you said, so we base it on their public personae - both men are incredibly guarded in front of a camera. Leaders in most aspects of life are loud and brashly confident. And so the second guessing will be always be there with these personality types.

    2. Lupul seems to have the on-ice and off-ice personality to be a great captain, totally agree with you, but it would be tough for the Leafs to put the "C" on a guy who is away from the team as often as he has been with injuries. Also it would have to follow a Phaneuf departure. I simply cannot see the team stripping Phaneuf while he's still on the roster.

    3. Was anybody talking about Dustin Brown as a great captain before last years playoffs, a role he has filled from 2008? Winning makes any style look good, and Brown is a reserved captain much like Phaneuf, and I think the two similarly do a lot of the little things on the ice that teammates notice but media and fans often don't.

  34. That's a very good and -fair- post, Anon. (And wasn't Brown, in fact, almost traded by the Kings before the deadline last year?) Winning helps perception, for sure.

  35. Hi Michael:

    You sure created some debate.

    I believe that many are anointing a leader without having a job description for "Captain". Their appears to be this nebulous description of some word called "leadership". What is a leader? the best player; the best communicator; the style/attitude; the noisiest/funniest; most popular; the best spokesman; the best go-between; best guy to deal with ref; the best cheerleader; highest salary; rugged; target???

    Many thought Rocket Richard was the face of the Canadiens (after all he created a riot), but Beliveau (spokesman) proved to be probably the best choice. Gretzky was the best player, but Messier was the Captain with intangibles and proved himself in two locations. Clarke represented an attitude/style of play.

    It may be that "Captain" is an anchronism more believed in by fans than the modern player. In this day of millionaire players, can they really be led by one person. It seems the best teams have a team attitude/approach that goes well beyond any one player. Further, this attitude/approach starts with management and coach and requires player buy-in which is often best-exemplified by the Captain.

    If you look at results, the number of top quality "Captains" is likely very small and most of those may never get over the Stanley Cup hump.

    While winners do not have bad captains, I have never been convinced the guy with the "C" can translate into the reason for victories.

  36. Outstanding post, Ralph (RLMcC). You're right about the Rocket. I was very young at the time in the late 1950s, but he was only made captain in his later years as a nod to his years of greatness after a legendary captain, Butch Bouchard, retired. As you well know Richard was certainly an inspiration to his teammates- not sure if he was a classic "Captain", though, which Beliveau proved to be. (My Dad often spoke to me about the captaincy in Montreal...he was a huge, passionate and devoted Montreal supporter.)

    You've added to the discussion today with a very clear, compelling post. Thanks Ralph.

  37. I think Dion should remain the captain. He deserves it for enduring all those years of humiliation and losing and remaining solid and never folding to pressure, never speaking badly about anyone on the team, never lashing out at the media. I think he has been a great captain. I think it'd be vary uncool to strip him of his captaincy now that the Leafs are doing better. Maybe Kadri should be the next captain after Phaneuf gets traded or retires. Lupul needs to string together a few games without breaking before we should be talking about him leading the team.

  38. Good to hear from you, leaf dreamer- thanks.