The Toronto Maple Leafs have had a lot of body work done on their roster this past season and now it’s time to consider a team captain to be the face of the franchise.
Toronto needs a player to represent the new era ushered in by general manager Brian Burke and head coach Ron Wilson. The Truculent Age, if you’d like.
Someone who can speak on behalf of an edition of the Maple Leafs meant to live by team founder Conn Smythe’s adage “If you can’t beat ‘em in the alley, you can’t beat ‘em on the ice.”
That spokesman? Look no further then Mike Komisarek.
Komisarek was one of Burke’s biggest acquisitions this past summer, and adds a great deal of toughness and skill to Toronto’s defensive corps.
Ask Jordan Staal, who had the misfortune of fighting Komisarek on Sept. 22, whether or not the 6-foot-4, 245 pound former Montreal Canadiens blue-liner can handle himself in hockey’s rougher elements.
Although he’s not a prolific scorer, Komisarek can be relied on to have a good plus-minus. His last three seasons with Montreal he was a total of plus-16.
He’ll undoubtedly get a lot of ice time too, as he will be invaluable on the Leafs’ penalty kill and will be responsible for shutting down the biggest offensive threats on Toronto’s opponents.
There are a few other names on the Leafs that could be considered for the captaincy. Certainly, Tomas Kaberle has spent the most time with the club and has long been a calming influence in the locker room.
But the Burke-era has been all about being brash on and off the ice. Although Kaberle will always be a leader, the soft-spoken Czech does not exemplify the Leafs’ new attitude.
Burke followed this sandpaper formula to great success in Anaheim. There Chris Pronger led the Ducks to a Stanley Cup championship, providing a combination of grit and defensive prowess.
Although Kaberle has the skills, he doesn’t have that same nasty attitude and outspoken demeanor. Komisarek, however, is like a younger Pronger.
Forward Matt Stajan, born and raised in the Toronto suburb of Mississauga, is always happy to answer the media’s questions. He’s also the team’s NHLPA representative and has been with the Leafs for eight seasons.
But with almost the entire roster new to the locker room in the Air Canada Centre, seniority doesn’t matter that much.
It’s only been one season since the departure of veteran centre Mats Sundin, and in that time, no one has worn a ‘C’ on their blue and white sweater.
Although it was only a year ago, the Leafs are an entirely different team from Sundin’s last game with Toronto.
It’s therefore fitting that some of the new blood shoulders assumes leadership on the team.
Komisarek is already the torch-bearer of this new era, it is high time that the Maple Leafs make it official by sewing the letter C on his jersey.