John Tavares showed a lack of fightback against Bolts; is he the wrong captain for the Leafs?

Published April 23, 2022 at 3:50 PM
BY JOSH
When John Tavares signed his massive 7-year $77,000,000 contract, it was seen as a major step forward for the Maple Leafs and in a lot of ways it was. The Tavares signing represented so many great things. It was a sign that local players were finally willing to return home and live out their childhood dreams. It also represented that the Maple Leafs were finally a contender for big name free agents.

When the Maple Leafs decided that they needed a captain for the first time in 3-years it made sense to consider Tavares. The other candidates to consider at the time were likely only Auston Matthews and Morgan Rielly. The Leafs ultimately decided to award the captaincy to Tavares in October, 2019. But was it the right choice?

In 5 seasons as captain of the New York Islanders, Tavares led his team to the playoffs only twice. In only one of those appearances did Tavares will the team out of the first round, something he has yet to do in three seasons with the Leafs. He does get a pass on one of those failures, due to the horrific injury he suffered last season.

Now I'm not saying the Maple Leafs shouldn't have signed John Tavares, because I still believe that's the right move. But there have been questions about Tavares' fight and leadership due to the abuse he appears to willingly take. It's hard to argue that any captain in the league takes more abuse without a willingness to drop the gloves than Tavares.


We've seen significant responses from players all over the league to the abuse they've received. We've seen Nathan MacKinnon, Connor McDavid and even Auston Matthews retaliate in one way or another.

Again this week we witnessed another embarrassing incidents involving John Tavares. After a scrum broke out during the Lightning and Maple Leafs game, Tavares paired off with Brandon Hagel. Hagel was clearly ready to drop the gloves, but Tavares was unwilling. Hagel landed a couple gloved shots to Tavares during the exchange, with no response.


After the incident, with the game out of reach, Pat Maroon began to chirp at Tavares calling him soft, but rather than getting upset Tavares simply replied with a mocking, "so soft."


While there is no reason for John Tavares to fight Pat Maroon, there is a reason for Tavares to fight for himself and for his teammates. One of the main criticisms that Tavares has faced is his lack of intensity. Tavares rarely yells or shouts while on the bench.

Hell, we've even heard in game broadcasters remark about how quiet the Leafs' bench is at times. Tavares is often seen stoically sitting and staring forward while the Maple Leafs are being embarrassed on the scoreboard.

A team's captain is a player you want to drag your team into battle. The guy who sets the tone for your team. He shows the team he's willing to fight for each and every single one of them. But Tavares isn't even willing to fight for himself.

If for some reason the Maple Leafs don't make it out of the 1st round, the only question that needs to be asked is, is John Tavares the right leader for this team? Or is it time to put the "C" on the chest of someone far more deserving who will hold his teammates accountable.

I'm not sure we haven't already passed that time.
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