Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Why Dion Phaneuf is the Next Captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs

Two years with no leader. A ship with no rudder, an army with no general, Montreal police without tear gas -- not a good position to be in.

Now that Brian Burke has had a full season to build the team in his image, you can bet they'll have a Captain named in time for the 2010-11 season and you can bet that it will be Dion Phaneuf.

There are several reasons why Dion will be the next to wear the 'C' in Toronto, here are a few;

- He's not going anywhere. He's signed through 2014 at a pretty big number. Part of the reason the Leafs didn't name a Captain this season or last was that they had no idea who would still be around (as it turns out, almost nobody). Phaneuf is going to be a mainstay in the Leafs lineup for at least the next few seasons.

- He's the one Leaf that might be able to out smoke Carey Price.

- Our Fearless Leader loves defensemen. Bringing in Pronger and Niedermayer were his main contributions to the Ducks' Stanely Cup winning squad and I'm sure he hopes that Phaneuf is a step in that direction.

- Truculence -- he's got it.

- Phaneuf is intense. This could work for a team or against it but in the case of the Leafs, a little bit of fire might be just what the doctor ordered.

- "Dion SMASH!!"

- Who the hell else? I hate to say it but there isn't really anyone. Phil Kessel is talented but he's got all the personality of a kidney bean. Komisarek might not be a bad choice but after this season you would have to consider him a health risk. Everyone else is below legal drinking age. That pretty much leaves Dion.

- He's a fan favorite. I mean let's face it, he made both 'Man Crush' posts on BCP. Need I say more? Ok, yeah, I probably do... The guys (and gals) at Pension Plan Puppets think he's pretty good too!


Ryan F said...

The only guy I would have tossed up for captain beside Dion was Komisarek, but Phaneuf is still a great pick.

SydDave said...

Giguere for Captain.. he's the dark horse to be named during the summer.. :p
Just kidding

Destroyko said...

The only reasonable point you raised in the entirety of the piece was "who the f*** else?". There is no other team in the league which could reasonably put forward Dion Phaneuf as captain material.

As to the "fan favourite" point, there is no other fanbase that could be so in love with a $6.5M midseason acquisition who put up the offensive numbers he did while contributing a veritable genocide of turnovers. But Leaf fans have always been good judges of defensemen...see "Murphy, Larry".

Curt S said...

In 26 games with the Leafs, Dion Phaneuf posted 10 points. During that time, the Leafs were 13-10-3. While that record may not be sparkling, it is a huge improvement on where the Leafs were prior to the deal and given the mediocrity of his stats I think it's fair to attribute those numbers to 1) better goaltending and 2) An improved attitude/confidence in the dressing room.

As always, things like that are tough to measure, but the encouragement that Phaneuf was offering younger players from the bench was visible.

I don't think he'll go down as a great Leaf captain but he is certainly our best option.

Anonymous said...

I would also refer @Destroyko to the Leafs PK numbers before the trade to acquire Phaneuf, and then the numbers after it. Its a drastic different, and while Freddy Sjostrom had a large role to play in that, there's no denying that there was a shift in attitude with the team after that trade was made.

Destroyko said...


I'm not sure I follow. Are you suggesting that Phaneuf's attitude injection was his contribution to the PK? Because you rightly identify Sjostrom as the greater on-ice factor. Phaneuf was getting minimal SH TOI under 3 different coaches in CGY for a reason: he's not getting paid $1M more than Duncan Keith for his positional defensive ability, "truculent" though he may be.

As to his attitude, I don't deny that a change in situation can be good for a young man and I hope for his sake that's the case, but the reason Sutter moved him for pennies on the dollar is that he was a very divisive presence in their locker room and it would be wise to approach a player with such red flags with caution instead of palm branches.


It's a dangerous game trying to pinpoint the reason for a young team's success over the final 30% of a season, and it's even more dangerous daring to use a hot stretch as a predictor of future success. See "Edmonton Oilers, 07-08"...

Curt S said...

@ Destroyko

As I suggested earlier, pinpointing anything with something as immeasurable as 'attitude' is nearly impossible and granted, the sample size is small. That said, those are the only results that we have access to and thus the only thing on which we can base our assessment of who ought to be Captain. Without Phaneuf, we sucked. With him, we were better than average.

WendelMadeMe said...

I think Phaneuf has a lot of energy (understatement), and if giving him the "C" helps channel it into lockeroom chemistry and optimism, then so be it.

Leaf.Fan.Gordo said...

@ Destroyko
I dunno how you can say Dion DOESNT smash. He totally smashes

Destroyko said...

Fair comment gordo. He does frequently smash.

In that case Curt, I think Freddy Shoes should be the captain. The same time frame logic applies and he has an infinitely cooler nickname than Phaneuf (take your pick: "Celine" or "Two-Twenty" - so named in Calgary because in his second year in the league he was acting like he'd been there for 20).

Curt S said...

@ Destroyko

Again, while the timeframe logic might apply, the evidence of conversations/reinforcement held while on the bench does not.