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Maple Leafs OK with having no captain

Veterans Marleau, Tavares, Hainsey lessen need for individual leader, say Hyman, Rielly

by Dave McCarthy / NHL.com Correspondent

TORONTO -- The Toronto Maple Leafs are in no hurry to name a captain, and that seems to be fine as far as center Zach Hyman and defenseman Morgan Rielly are concerned.

"We haven't had a captain; we didn't have a captain last year," Hyman said after an informal practice on Thursday. "I think that we have such a strong leadership group, and then you add a guy like [center] John [Tavares] and we have older guys who kind of lead the way and our younger guys are growing up, becoming more mature and taking on leadership roles also. We have a good group of guys and I guess you don't need a captain to start the year."

The Maple Leafs are not likely to name a captain prior to the start of the season, general manager Kyle Dubas told TSN on Wednesday. This would mark the third consecutive season Toronto will open the season without one.

 

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Rielly, an alternate captain last season, said the Maple Leafs do not need to rely on one player to show the way. With forward Patrick Marleau, 38, a former captain with the San Jose Sharks and a veteran of 20 NHL seasons and 1,575 games; defenseman Ron Hainsey, 37, who has 15 NHL seasons, 987 games and a Stanley Cup on his resume; and the addition of Tavares, 27, a former captain of the New York Islanders, there is no shortage of veteran experience for the Maple Leafs to draw on.

"The makeup of a leadership group, it's not just going to be one person who has to take all the pressure on themselves," Rielly said. "I think it has to be a group effort, and we have guys in this room who are willing to step up and be a part of that. We feel comfortable with the group we have, we feel comfortable with where we're at in terms of personnel, especially when it comes to that leadership area."

The Maple Leafs have not had a captain since defenseman Dion Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 9, 2016. Though they have made the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of their past two full seasons without a captain, the topic of the captaincy has been a topic of fans and Toronto media since. Not so inside the Maple Leafs dressing room, however.

Video: Debating who should captain the Maple Leafs

"I don't think we've ever had a conversation amongst ourselves about it," Hyman said. "It's all the buzz outside about who's going to be captain but in the dressing room, nobody talks about who's going to be captain, assistant captains or things like that. You just do things the right way and we have guys who do things the right way.

Said Rielly: "We certainly don't talk about it as a group. We approach every day with guys knowing their role, guys have taken on more responsibility.

"It's up to each individual to do that and we have guys in the room who are willing to do that. The media has a job to do, that's fine, we understand that's part of it, but we go about our business just the same as we always have."

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