Luke started ripping into one member of the team in particular. Joseph is the oldest person on the team, and has been there the longest. He is also more than capable of taking care of himself. He turned around and told Luke that he knew how to play and that he could knock it off.
Even if Joseph can take care of himself, this is where you, as team captain, need to step in. You need to make sure Luke knows that such behavior is *not* acceptable--and the team needs to see you take that stance. They all know what Luke's been up to, and they need to know you're going to be proactive about it.
Luke retaliated by subbing himself in for Joseph after he had some bad hits. It blindsided Joseph and myself.
And here's where you absolutely should've stepped in. He shouldn't have been able to make that call once, let alone numerous times. But you didn't, and by letting Luke run the show the rest of the game, you ceded control to him--and the team saw it.
time he physically handled a teammate, you should've benched him. There shouldn't have been a second time.
I'm sorry if I'm blunt, but you need the push here. This has been going on so long, that Luke knows
he can retain control if he just deals with you once in a while (probably sees it as "putting up with" you) and waits it out. Don't worry about being nice anymore. He's shown that nice does not work with him. That doesn't mean you have to be mean, but you
can be blunt.
Don't couch what you say with compliments, don't get detailed. Don't let him tie you up in minutiae about how this person played (he will), or about how that one was late (he will), or why he does the things he does (he will). You already knows he thinks he can do no wrong, so he's going to try and argue his side if you let him.
Instead, cut to the core and only
the core, and tell him like it is.
"Luke, I'm captain. You are not. We've talked about this before, but you keep doing it, and tonight, you were way over the line. You've got no authority to say when people should show up, you're completely wrong to be making calls about who will play, when they will, and you know why. Most of all, tonight, you were utterly out of line to physically handle your teammates. I'm done. I'm pulling you for the next three games, and after that, if you choose to return, it'll be to play my
way--the way this team played long before you arrived. If you can't do that, there's plenty of other teams in the league."
When you say it, pull him aside if you want, but don't worry about doing this where no one else will hear. Your team needs to know
you're doing something about this, and that you'll stand solid on it. Whatever you do, don't be apologetic to Luke. Don't express your sadness at having to do that. He will see that as weakness, as a foothold.
try to make this out to be your fault to some degree--or Joseph's, or someone else's. He'll try to deflect, to muddy the waters. Do not let him redirect. Hell, just don't even engage. It's no longer about him. It's about fixing this fracture in your team--in this microcommunity.
Just repeat "this discussion is over" and walk away.
It might feel
like what you're doing is rude--and maybe it is, rude to him. But to not
end this is being rude to everyone else on the team, and enabling Luke to keep being ruder. Your team will probably be glad to witness you firmly planting a foot down.
If you don't think you can do it in person, do it in mail. One on one, CC'ing the directly affected--and then write your team. "Team, I know there's been problems with Luke. I'd be discreet and say 'a player,' but I think we're all aware. This past game, he physically handled two players, and it was the straw that broke the camel's back. I've given him an ultimatum about that and his other behaviors, and a three-game suspension. If you want to dispute it, come to me. After those three games, he's free to return, so long as he'll do it on our terms.
Any further bullying from him will cause him to be removed from the team.
"I'm sorry it's gone on this long. I like to believe in the best in everyone, but sometimes, bullies just won't respond like normal folk. Thank you for hanging in there, and I'm sorry to everyone who's been negatively impacted by him. As your captain, I'll do my best to make sure that this is the last of it. If you have questions or suggestions, I'm here.
"Thanks. Now, what's up for the end-of-season party?"
Firm up that spine! You need to shore it up with steel, even if temporarily. Otherwise, plan on half of your team being gone next season, filled with Luke's picks, and your captainship being reduced to nothing but an emeritus position as he takes over.
More power to you. You can do this.