In Friday’s Leafs Links, Elliotte Friedman, Darren Dreger, and Brian Burke all believe the decision to name John Tavares the 19th captain in Toronto Maple Leafs history precedes the news about Auston Matthews’ disorderly conduct charge.

Leafs Links

Elliotte Friedman: “Decent chance it’s Tavares” (WGR 550)
Friedman believes the decision was already made to go with Tavares before the organization became privy of the Matthews allegations.

On Matthews’ failure to alert the organization:

He and the people around him mishandled this badly. You can’t have your GM read about it on Twitter. You just can’t. You have to make the team aware of the possibility. You cannot embarrass your employer like that… Watching that video last night was tough for him. He made one mistake and then he made it worse. All he can do now is try to put one foot in front another and try to repair his image.

On how/if it affects the captaincy:

There is no way they could give it to him now. There is a belief here — and I do subscribe to it — that the decision had already been made and I think there is a decent chance it’s Tavares. If that’s the case, they’re probably pretty fortunate they don’t have to change their decision publicly. I don’t think you could put the C on Matthews now. You can’t do it.

Personally, I thought he was one of three guys — it was going to be him, Tavares or Rielly. They were the three choices and Matthews and Tavares were the top two. I do think there were people in the organization who wanted to give Matthews the C because they thought it would help him grow and take the next level. I do think there are other people in the organization who said, “No, Tavares is a pro. He is 29 years old. He does everything by example. He is low maintenance. It is too much to give Matthews at this time.” While I don’t know for sure, I do believe those people won the day.

On why Tavares might be picked and if Marner was in consideration:

Marner might get an A. I wouldn’t be surprised by that at all. He did just go through a pretty tough contract negotiation with them, so I don’t know if they would’ve given him the C, but it’s possible he gets the A. I’ve heard lots of people make the point that it could’ve been done as part of recruiting Tavares — giving him the C. But I think last year they really wanted to see how everybody adapted.

It was a wild year in terms of contract negotiations, rumours about relationships between players. I think they just wanted to see how it all went down. Tavares scored 47 goals and he continued to be John Tavares the hockey role model. “I do my job and prepare myself my way.” I do feel there was a lot of people in the organization that felt that was what should be rewarded.

On when the C will be announced:

I think it was the plan to do it before the season. I don’t know. I am doing a little bit of guessing right now in that I think it is [Tavares] but I am not 100% sure. But if anything, they’re probably really fortunate that if it was Matthews, they didn’t do it already. Imagine what they would have to do with everything that happened here.

Darren Dreger on if Tavares will be named captain (TSN1050)
Dreger echoes the sentiment that Tavares will receive the C and believes it had been decided “long before” the Matthews situation.

That’s our sense for sure and it’s been that way for a while. My understanding is the Leafs were very likely going in the direction of John Tavares long before the news broke on Auston Matthews and what he is facing. The announcement of that decision should happen I would think early next week at the latest.

I had another conversation with somebody last night who is relatively close to the situation and has been for quite some time. The indication that John Tavares would be the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs has been out there for quite some time. It is cloak and dagger and been kept private — there is nothing official, certainly nothing mentioned inside the dressing room to specific players — but there has been an indication that Tavares would be the captain.

Brian Burke believes John Tavares will be next Maple Leafs captain (Sportsnet)
Burke believes the decision was made to go with Tavares a few days prior to the Matthews news.

First off, I don’t think this is a factor. The Leafs have been very closed-mouthed about who the captain will be and they’ve said this will not be a factor, but obviously, it would be a factor if he was still in consideration. My information is they internally arrived three or four days ago at a decision to name John Tavares the captain. I don’t think this will be the weight on the balance of the scales that will turn this against Auston Matthews being named the captain. I believe internally the decision was made several days ago that this would be John Tavares, which I think is the right choice, by the way. I think Auston Matthews is a good hockey player and will be the captain here someday, but I think JT should be the captain right now.

The Auston Matthews thing — first of all, I am going to base this thing on very incomplete knowledge. I listened to the security officer and I saw it from the body cam of the police officer. That’s all I know other than what I’ve read. Assuming incomplete information, if this is all that happened, it’s a very serious lapse in judgment on two levels. The whole notion of putting this woman in fear late at night intoxicated. Removing your clothing, and it’s not clear how much clothing was removed. Also, is this all? In her interviews, she said one of the people with Auston alleged this might’ve happened earlier in the evening. Assuming this is all, it is a serious lapse in judgment. 1) To accost this woman in this manner. No woman deserves to be accosted in this manner at day or night. 2) Not telling the team. When you mess up, you’ve got to own up.

That being said, he is a young player. Poor judgment. These things happen. I am not shrugging it off. It’s a serious lapse.

Chris Johnston weighs in on the captaincy (Sportsnet 960)
Johnston sees Tavares as the safest choice for the C at this time.

It depends what you view the captaincy as. Part of it is symbolic and marketing and PR. He is the legacy player, potentially, from this group of young Leafs. He’s the organization’s first number-one pick in over 30 years. He’s had three really strong seasons in the NHL. He’s got a lot of swagger to him and a lot to offer off the ice. He’s a homegrown guy. He is the face of the younger part of the team that has sort of come on in the past few years. I think that would’ve been the grounds to do it.

If we are talking pure traditional leadership qualities, Tavares always made sense. He is the guy who chose to come home. He took a lot of wrath in Long Island for his decision to sign in Toronto. He has done it before — he’s been a captain for five or six seasons for the Islanders. He is a model citizen and the adult in the room at every moment. He is certainly a much safer choice. I don’t think you’ll see any outrage or pushback if they announce Tavares here because of those reasons. He’s also been a number-one overall pick and seen everything in the game.

It might’ve been a symbolic thing with Matthews, giving it to one of the young guys who is going to define if this is a successful period or not in Leafs history. But Tavares is certainly not a bad fallback option and certainly makes a lot of sense when you look at what has happened here with Auston. It was a serious incident he had down in Arizona and it’s clear there were some bad feelings about the way it all went down from management. I don’t see it having long-term consequences — they’ll get through it together — but Tavares is a much safer choice in all these ways.

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