Jake Gardiner unconcerned with Maple Leafs not having captain

Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Jake Gardiner joins Tim and Sid to talk about the expectations going into this season and more.

The Toronto Maple Leafs haven’t had a team captain since trading away Dion Phaneuf in February 2016 and general manager Lou Lamoriello announced earlier this month that being a captainless club will remain the status quo for the time being.

For Jake Gardiner, not having a player donning the ‘C’ isn’t much of an issue.

“We have a lot of veteran presence now and I think that’s one thing we needed,” the defenceman told Tim and Sid Friday.

The Maple Leafs were among the youngest teams in the league one year ago but after signing 38-year-old Patrick Marleau, 37-year-old Dominic Moore and 36-year-old Ron Hainsey in the off-season this is a more mature group.

“You look at all the championship teams, teams like Chicago, it’s not just [Jonathan] Toews leading that team,” Gardiner explained. “It’s [Brent] Seabrook, it’s [Duncan] Keith, it’s [Patrick] Kane, it’s all those guys. It’s a group and I think that’s what we’re doing here. We brought in Marleau, we brought in Hainsey, we already have guys that are leaders on this team and we’re just going to work together to do that.”

Gardiner, entering his seventh season with the Maple Leafs, is coming off his best year as a pro and the 27-year-old said Mike Babcock deserves some credit.

“When he first got here I wasn’t really sure, my confidence wasn’t very high and my role I didn’t really know [what it was] and now it’s pretty defined and I feel pretty good about myself and obviously the team has come a long way,” Gardiner said.

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