Toronto Maple Leafs: Should David Booth be the Next Captain?


Toronto Maple Leafs: Should David Booth be the Next Captain?

Let’s play every part-time Leafs blogger’s favourite game – let’s play Hypothetical Situation Concerning the Future Direction of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Apr 8, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena. The Jackets won 5-0. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(Afterwards, we might want to think of a less awkward name for this game.)

We can begin by assuming that the Leafs somehow manage to move Dion Phaneuf and his cumbersome contract – who they get in return, how much salary they retain are unimportant questions for the sake of this exercise – before the start of the next season. We can further assume that the Leafs are actively, if not successfully, shopping Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak, essentially showing the current leadership group the door.

Now the real fun begins.

The Leafs will obviously need to replace these players both in terms of their offensive production and whatever role it is that they fulfill on the team. In part, this sudden vacancy can be filled by Roman Polak and Stephane Robidas on the back end. (Assuming the Leafs re-sign Cody Franson, he’s another option to lead the charge from the rear.)

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  • This leaves us with the forward corps to consider. It’s here that the team’s recent troubles mainly rest – Kessel and Bozak aren’t exactly inspirational leaders while Lupul seems to split his time between the locker room and the infirmary – as we saw down the stretch last season. James van Riemsdyk is a potential leadership candidate, but he could also be available on the trade market for all we know and he’s rather young. The Leafs need a veteran leader who can carry them through the difficult process of rebuilding their team – someone who is dependable, consistent and approachable. I’m not sure van Riemsdyk is that player right now.

    Daniel Winnik, who the Leafs re-signed on Wednesday, is one option. Another potential option that I really like is David Booth. Of course, they’ll need to re-sign him, but he’ll come on the cheap and he’s full of experience, battling through adversity both on and off the ice throughout his career.

    Apr 8, 2015; Columbus, OH, USA; Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Sergei Bobrovsky (72) makes a save on Toronto Maple Leafs left wing David Booth (20) in the first period at Nationwide Arena. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

    I say this because Booth was one of the few players who really stood out at the end of last season. You could tell he was giving it his all. As the Leafs began to falter, his game only improved. He was even committed enough to challenge Phil Kessel during practice – that’s the kind of guy you want leading your squad. He could very easily be our Brian Gionta.

    There are three obvious counterarguments to making Booth the next captain of the Leafs: 1) he’s rarely healthy; 2) he’s no longer a star player in the NHL; and 3) he’s not under contract right now. If you remember, however, this is a hypothetical exercise so we can ignore all of these pesky “hiccups” sent our way by reality.

    Booth is a Brendan Shanahan type of player – someone committed to the game and who gives it his all every single day – which makes him an ideal, if not real, option to lead the Leafs.

    What do you think? Who should be the next captain of the Leafs? What about Lupul – would he make a better candidate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.

    Follow me on Twitter for regular posts about sports (especially the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Toronto Blue Jays), politics and other news topics: @williamefwilson