An entire season without a Captain. For one night, however, we welcomed back our former Chief, the Great Sundin, and although he dressed in our rivals' uniform, there was indeed a celebration worthy of this reunion. Despite some discontent from the riff-raff, his return received the most honourable of ovations, worthy of the noblest man.
At last, when the time came for Sundin to strike the fatal blow, delivering our points in the standings to our enemies in sacrificial martyrdom, he did so like a champion. The saga was over, once and for all, with Sundin leaving as the victor, the last goal ever scored while his skates were on the ACC ice - his.
Of the 5 Alternates that were named to share leadership at the beginning of the season, 3 have not survived. Antropov and Kubina have travelled very different paths to get to the same destination. The Rebel, Moore, went off in search of the horizon and was never heard from again. The two remaining Alternates were Mayers, a weathered journeyman who could fight proudly but was unable to carry the team, and Kaberle the Quiet, the longest serving tribesman; hugely popular, yet an uncomfortably valuable asset that promised new blood. Though he now seems destined to remain with the team, part of the mystique and magic that is Kaberle is his unassuming nature and passive precision. A terrific and subtle weapon, but not the next Captain.
Yet our tribes spirited effort to reclaim its proud identity did not go for long without a symbolic figurehead. A face that stood for a franchise, a player we longed to follow as a generation, began to emerge. No torch had been passed, and yet, a light was shining brightly, ever clearer, leading the way.Luke Schenn. The name is like a switch. It turns you on. Say it out loud and people will notice. It feels important, profound. You want more. You want it again.
As our second season without a Captain approaches, there is comfort and solace in the knowledge that a noble young warrior has come forward, with unanimous approval of the Nation, to assume the role of Saviour. Uniquely capable of crushing the will of his opponents, yet also of lifting the spirits of the cynical and inspiring the bitter to love again, there are only two words left to describe Luke Schenn:
Next Captain. The question is no longer who?, but when?
This post dedicated to the memory of Ted "Teeder" Kennedy, one of the Leafs' most important Captains, who passed away today at the age of 83. Captain from 1948 to 1955 and 1956-7, Kennedy won 5 Stanley Cups in 13 seasons, all with the Blue and White. There's some great photos here from Somny at Vintage Leafs, including one of Teeder about to fight Gordie Howe.