Matthews ready to accept Leafs' captaincy if called upon
Claus Andersen / Getty Images Sport / Getty

If Mike Babcock, Kyle Dubas, and Brendan Shanahan decide they want Auston Matthews to be the 18th captain in Toronto Maple Leafs history, the soon-to-be 21-year-old is ready to answer the bell.

"Yeah, I would tell them yeah," he told The Athletic's Jonas Siegel when asked what his response would be if approached about wearing the 'C.' "I’d tell them I’d feel ready. I don’t know what they’re thinking about doing, what they want to do.

"Obviously John (Tavares) has been the captain in New York for a while. So I don’t know what they’re thinking or what their whole ideal situation is for that. But I don’t think it really changes much, whether you have a letter or not, for myself or anybody. I go lead by example, on the ice, off the ice, and being a good teammate is a big part of that, too."

The Leafs haven't had a captain for two seasons. Dion Phaneuf last wore the 'C' before being dealt to the Ottawa Senators midway through the 2015-16 campaign.

Matthews was seemingly the no-brainer future captain of the Maple Leafs, but the acquisition of Tavares could change things. He's seven years older than Matthews and captained the New York Islanders for the past five seasons.

Immediately handing the captaincy to an offseason free-agent signing is a rarity. But a player of Tavares' caliber hitting the open market is rare, too.

Matthews, Toronto's prized first overall pick in 2016, has the homegrown advantage, but somewhat surprisingly no experience being a captain.

"I’ve never really thought about (being a captain), honestly," he told Siegel. "When I played I was always the younger guy on the team so I was never a captain. I was an assistant captain at the (U.S. development) program. Playing in Europe obviously (I was) a young guy. It’s something I’ve never really thought about too much.

"But obviously you come into a situation like this and it’s something that if it happens then you definitely embrace it and accept it, and if doesn’t you go about your business and your thing the same way."

The Leafs could also go one more season without naming a captain. Only time will tell.

Matthews ready to accept Leafs' captaincy if called upon
  Got something to say? Leave a comment below!
Daily Newsletter
Get the latest trending sports news daily in your inbox