John Tavares should be named "captain ASAP" of the Toronto Maple Leafs, former Maple Leafs forward and captain Rick Vaive told Sportsnet 590 on Thursday.
The 27-year-old center signed a seven-year, $77 million contract with Toronto as an unrestricted free agent Sunday. The contract has an average annual value of $11 million.
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"I would make John Tavares captain ASAP if he wanted it in Toronto," Vaive told the radio station. "Now I think you'd have to ask him, but I don't think he'd have a problem with it because I think that him as a captain, he's going to make these young guys work that much harder to be the best they can possibly be.
"Not that they don't work hard already, but nobody does it like Johnny, and I can tell you that for fact. This guy is meticulous about his game-day ritual, the way he works on everything, his skills and everything else, and he never quits on a puck when he's on the ice."
The Maple Leafs have not had a captain since Feb. 9, 2016, when they traded defenseman Dion Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators.
"If [Tavares is] wearing the C, he's going to push all those young guys to be that much better," Vaive said. "And I think that does nothing but elevate the Leafs to another level."
Tavares signed with the Maple Leafs after playing the first nine seasons of his NHL career with the New York Islanders, who selected him with the No. 1 pick of the 2009 NHL Draft. Tavares has 621 points (272 goals, 349 assists) in 669 NHL games, and had been the Islanders captain since 2013-14.
Vaive had 788 points (441 goals, 347 assists) in 876 NHL games during 13 seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Maple Leafs, Chicago Blackhawks and Buffalo Sabres, and was Toronto captain from 1981-86.