Brian Burke strongly advises against removing John Tavares’ captaincy

Photo credit:Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Arun Srinivasan
10 days ago
We’re past the opening days of free agency and now the discourse surrounding the Toronto Maple Leafs has become so performative, we may as well call it theatre.
Nick Kypreos appeared on the FAN 590 Monday and said that he’s been hearing that the Maple Leafs are contemplating removing the captaincy from John Tavares and giving it to Auston Matthews, while adding that it was a mere idea at this stage. The Athletic’s James Mirtle effectively disputed Kypreos’ report Tuesday, before saying that the Maple Leafs may eventually want to give the ‘C’ to Matthews but the idea was already floating onto the airwaves, onto social media and now it’s becoming a topic of discussion, whether artificial or not.
Brian Burke, the former Toronto Maple Leafs general manager, who now operates as the executive director of the Professional Women’s Hockey League Player Association (PWHLPA) weighed on the idea during his appearance on Wednesday’s edition of Leafs Morning Take.
“I’ve had the discussion before and it’s such a drastic step,” Burke told Nick Alberga and Jay Rosehill. “It’s admitting you made a mistake in my mind if you put the ‘C’ on a guy and take it away. You’ve seen it happen, it happened in San Jose and it’s happened recently. It’s not unheard of, but it is unusual.
“I wouldn’t entertain that discussion. I think John Tavares is a quality player and a good guy. He’s earned his money, he’s done a good job, he’s killed penalties, he’s worked on the power play, I think he’s a useful guy, he’s good in the community. I’ve heard the rumours though, the rumblings.”
It’s a strong vote of confidence for Tavares from Burke and really, it’s not one that he necessarily needs. Tavares is beginning to show some signs of age-related decline but he’s extremely well-respected in the room, he’s a much better public speaker than he’s often given credit for and his family and foundation works tirelessly to maintain the Maple Leafs’ image. In another sense, there are many things you can take umbrage with about the Maple Leafs’ perpetual playoff failures, but it’s sort of difficult to imagine it’s because of intangibles or an absence of leadership, when you lose in the overtime of the seventh game against a vaunted divisional rival.
In large part due to the dramatic fashion in which they were eliminated, pretty much every tangible option around the Maple Leafs will be exhausted in the 24-hour news cycle, but this appears to be wish fulfilment operating as desire, and for now, it doesn’t appear that Tavares will be stripped of the captaincy anytime soon. It certainly wouldn’t go over well with at least one former Maple Leafs GM.

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