Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Captain's Log

O Captain my Captain! our fearful trip does start;
The ship has weather’d every season, playoffs apart;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of blue,
Where on the bench my Captain tries,
To bring the winning back to you.

O Captain! my Captain! rise up and hear the cheers;
Rise up—for you the flag is flung—for you the applause does near;
For you bouquets and ribbon’d wreaths—for you the fans a-crowding;
For you they call, the swaying mass, their eager faces turning;
Here Captain! dear father!
This arm beneath your head;
It is some dream that on the bench,
You’ll rise and lead us ahead.

My Captain does not answer, his face a steely mask;
My father does not feel my arm, he only sees his task;
The ship is anchor’d safe and sound, its voyage closed and done;
From fearful trip, the victor ship, comes in with Stanley won;
Exult, O shores, and ring, O bells!
But I, with gleeful tread,
Skate the ice where my Captain does,
A Cup at last for us.
With sincere apologies to Walt Whitman.

Captains for the Maple Leafs since the most famous year of all (1967 for those of you who haven't heard) have neither won the Cup, nor retired as Captain of the team. A rather sad state all things considered.

George Armstrong #10--The Chief...Captain from 57-69...Gave up the Captaincy to Davey Keon...7 time all-star...Leaf coach during the 88/89 season finishing 5th in the Norris division and out of the playoffs.

Dave Keon #14--Captain from 69-75...Keon bolted from the Leafs to join the WHA's Minnesota Fighting Saints...Ended up with Hartford Whalers and played for them when they were brought into the NHL...Best season was a 38 goal/76 point season in 70/71... Still has ill feelings toward the organization but did return for an appearance in 2007 when MLSE honoured the 1967 team...Received a long standing ovation from the crowd that night

Darryl Sittler #27--Captain from 75-79 and 80-82. Best season was in 77/78 when he scored 117 points, the second time he cracked the 100 point mark with the Leafs...Traded to Philadelphia in 82 for Rich Costello, a second round pick (Peter Ihnachuk) and Ken Strong because of the poor relationship between him and management (read Harold Ballard)...ironically, Ballard had turned down a 1980 offer of Rick McLeish and Andre Dupont for Sittler...Sittler now works as an ambassador for the Maple Leafs

Rick Vaive #22--Captain from 82-86...3 consecutive 50+ goal seasons with the Leafs from 81-84...Played one season with the WHA's Birmingham Bulls and then drafted into the NHL by the Vancouver Canucks...Traded to the Leafs with Bill Derlago for Tiger Williams and Jerry Butler...Traded to Chicago with Steve (Stumpy) Thomas and Big Daddy Bob McGill for Al Secord and Ed Olczyk before the 1987 season

Rob Ramage #8--Captain from 89-91...Arrived in Toronto from Calgary for a second round choice in 1989...Played with Vaive in Birmingham as part of the "Baby Bulls"...Leaf management managed to show their incredible ineptitude by accidentally allowing him to be picked off in the Minnesota North Stars expansion draft in 91...Recently in the news due to a DUI conviction

Wendel Clark #17--Captain from 91-94...Traded to Quebec
in 94 for Mats Sundin among others and rejoined the Leafs two years later in a trade with the Islanders...Best goal scoring season was 93/94 when he scored 46 goals despite playing only 64 games...Best fight season was, well, pick 'em...Left again for the Tampa Bay Lightning but ended with another small tour of duty with the Leafs in the 99/00 season.

Doug Gilmour #93--Captain from 94/97..,Acquired from Calgary along with ahhhh, you know that trade don't you?....Best Leaf season was 92/93 with 127 points...Victim of the most famous "non-call" in Stanley Cup Playoff history...Traded to New Jersey
in 1997 for Alyn McCauley, Steve Sullivan and Jason Smyth...Returned to the Leafs for a sixth round choice from the hated Montreal Canadiens at the 2003 trade deadline so Dougie could finish his career as a Toronto Maple Leaf...he did, however, his career ended much sooner than expected, breaking his leg on his second shift back....Now coaching his hometown Kingston Frontenacs of the OHL

Mats Sundin #13--Captain from 1997-2008...Consistently the Leafs leading scorer throughout his career...Came to the Leafs as a result of a draft day deal featuring Wendel Clark...First overall pick of the Nordiques in 1989...Leaf career leader in just about every offensive category...Became a free agent after refusing to waive his NTC and eventually signed with the Vancouver Canucks.

The next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs?

Let's look at the candidates presently with their odds of becoming the next captain of the Maple Leafs

  • Dion Phaneuf -- Showing great leadership traits 3-1
  • Luke Schenn -- Fan favourite, can grow into position 9-2
  • Phil Kessel -- Best player not always best captain 12-1
  • Tomas Kaberle -- If he's still here the next year or two 15-1
  • Nikolai Kulemin -- Is Toronto ready for a Russian captain? 20-1
  • Tyler Bozak --Young, good player, too many in front of him. 50-1
For whomever the honour falls to, that player has to realize that it is just that; an honour to be the captain of the team at the centre of the hockey universe. It may be the most sacred honour in all of hockey, if not all of sports. When you are captain of the Leafs you are put on a pedestal, you become an icon. Only precious few ever get the call. Even fewer can do it proud. So, Dion, Luke, Phil, Tomas, or whoever it may be, whenever you are called, do it well. A whole nation will be watching.

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