Friday, September 24, 2010

Captain of The Ship

On Tuesday night (Sept.21, 2010) Dion Phaneuf performed in his first game wearing the the captains "C" for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He became only the 5th defenceman in team history to accomplish this feat. Let's take a closer look at the first defenceman to be named captain of the Leafs.
Hap Day started his career in Toronto playing in the 1924-25 season with the St. Pats. In his rookie year, the left winger scored 10 goals and recorded 22 points in 26 games. A major change in ownership not only resulted in a new name, Maple Leafs, but an overhaul of the roster. Under Conn Smythe's new regime, Hap Day was one of the few survivors. With a new boss at the helm, Day was looking at playing a new position. In 1927-28 season not only would Day be converted to a defenceman, he would be named team captain. His leadership qualities took centre stage during the 1932 Stanley Cup final.

The 1931-32 campaign was an important time for the City of Toronto with the opening of Maple Leaf Gardens. The move to 60 Carlton Street had a double meaning for Hap Day. At the University of Toronto he had earned a degree in Pharmacology. In the Gardens early years, one of the occupants was a Pharmacy owned by Hap Day.

In the playoffs, the Leafs battled through the Chicago Black Hawks and Montreal Maroons to reach the Cup final and face the New York Rangers. In the post season Day scored 3 goals and 3 assists in 7 games. The Leafs won their first World Championship defeating the Rangers, with Day being the first Leaf captain to hoist the Stanley Cup. When his run with the Toronto Maple Leafs came to an end in 1937, he had played in 476 games and produced 161 points (G-62, A-99).

After his playing career was over, Day would coach the Maple Leafs from 1940 to 1950. As bench boss, he had his name placed on the Stanley Cup 5 more times. His finest moment came in the 1942 final against the Detroit Red Wings. With his club down 3 games to 0, he read a letter from a young fan as a motivational tool. This, along with playing some rookies, set the ship on the right path, and Day had his first Stanley Cup as a coach. In 1961 Hap Day was enshrined in the Hockey Hall of Fame as an Honoured Member.

Below is the complete list of defencemen who were named captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Hap Day, 1927-28 to 1936-37
Red Horner, 1938-39 to 1939-40
Jim Thompson, 1956-57 (Shared with Ted Kennedy)
Rob Ramage, 1989-90 to 1990-91
Dion Phaneuf, 2010-11 to

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