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Dion Phaneuf



 Dion Phaneuf

Dion Phaneuf (born April 10, 1985) is a Canadian professional ice hockey defenceman and captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs of the National Hockey League. He was drafted ninth overall in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft by the Calgary Flames, and made his NHL debut in 2005 after a four year junior career with the Red Deer Rebels of the Western Hockey League in which he was twice named the Defenceman of the Year. He set a Flames record for most goals by a first-year defenceman and was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie in 2005–06. Two years later, he was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as top defenceman, though he did not win either award. Phaneuf is a three-time NHL All-Star. He has represented Canada internationally four times in his career, winning silver and gold medals at the World Junior Hockey Championship in 2004 and 2005 respectively, and a gold medal at the 2007 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships.

Phaneuf is active in the community; the Flames honoured Phaneuf for his role as an ambassador to the Alberta Children’s Hospital where he participated in events that help sick and injured children during his time in Calgary.

Early life

Dion Phaneuf was born April 10, 1985 in EdmontonAlberta. He is the son of Paul, in construction, and Amber, a nurse.[1] Dion attended Harry Ainlay Composite High School. He has a younger brother, Dane, who currently plays for the P.E.I. Rocket of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).[2]Phaneuf’s parents describe their family as being close-knit, as Phaneuf kept in close touch with his family as he embarked on his own junior career.[3]

Phaneuf’s father maintained a backyard rink each winter that the young Phaneuf practiced on. His mother, a former figure skater who competed for Prince Edward Island at the 1975 Canada Winter Games, taught him to skate.[1] Phaneuf also practiced his shot relentlessly in the basement of his family’s home, frequently breaking the nets his father bought.[3]

[edit]Playing career

[edit]Junior

The Red Deer Rebels selected Phaneuf in the third round of the 2000 WHL Bantam Draft.[4] One year later, he joined the Rebels for the 2001–02 WHL seasonand recorded 17 points in 67 games.[5] He added two assists in 21 games as the Rebels lost in the WHL final against the Kootenay Ice.[6] He improved to 16 goals and 30 points in 2002–03 as the Rebels again reached the WHL finals, again losing, this time to the Kelowna Rockets.[5][6] Phaneuf’s development earned him comparisons to Hall of Famer Scott Stevens, as he was lauded by scouts for his physical style and ability to excel both defensively and offensively.[7] Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter valued Phaneuf so highly in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft that he attempted to trade up from his ninth overall selection in the draft to no avail.[8] Sutter was unable to complete a trade, but was still able to select Phaneuf with his first selection in the draft.[9]

Phaneuf established himself as one of junior hockey’s top players following the draft, improving to 42 points in 62 games,[5] and earning the Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy as the top defenceman in the WHL.[10] He was also named an Eastern Conference All-Star by the WHL, and a First Team All-Star by the Canadian Hockey League (CHL).[5] He was considered a candidate to join the Flames in 2004, however the 2004–05 NHL lockout forced Phaneuf to play one final year of junior hockey.[11] He scored 56 points in 55 games to finish his junior career with 146 points.[5] He repeated as the WHL’s defenceman of the year, and was again named to both WHL and CHL All-Star Teams.[5] Prospects Hockey rated Phaneuf as the top player in the CHL in both 2004 and 2005, ahead of Sidney Crosby, naming him one of the best junior defencemen of the previous decade.[12]

[edit]Calgary Flames

 Dion Phaneuf

magnify clip Dion Phaneuf

Phaneuf while playing with the Flames in 2008

Phaneuf joined the Flames for the 2005–06 NHL season after signing his first professional contract in September 2005.[13] He made his NHL debut on October 5, 2005 against the Minnesota Wild. Five nights later, he scored his first career goal, assist and points against the Colorado Avalanche. He was named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for November after leading all rookie defencemen with nine points and two game winning goals.[14] By January, Phaneuf was being named alongside Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin as a candidate for the NHL’s top rookie.[15] He finished the season with 20 goals, only the third player in NHL history after Brian Leetch and Barry Beck to score 20 as a rookie defenceman.[16] His 20 goals also broke the Flames franchise record for goals by a rookie, surpassing Gary Suter‘s total of 18.[17] He was named a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy as top rookie, but lost out to Ovechkin.[18]

A 50 point sophomore season earned Phaneuf his first NHL All-Star Game appearance in 2006–07.[19] He participated in the hardest shot competition at theSuperSkills competition, losing to Zdeno Chara,[20] and scored a goal and an assist in the game itself to help the Western Conference defeat the East 12–9.[21]The Flames signed Phaneuf to a six-year, US$39 million contract extension midway through the 2007–08 season.[22] He responded by posting a career high 60 points,[5] and was voted into the starting lineup by the fans for the 2008 All-Star Game.[23] Phaneuf was named to the NHL First All-Star Team following the season,[24] and was a finalist for the James Norris Memorial Trophy as defenceman of the year,[25] losing to Niklas Lidstrom.[26]

The 2008–09 season was a frustrating one for Phaneuf, as he recorded a career low 11 goals and 47 points,[5] and his poor plus/minus rating of −11 led fans to question his defensive commitment.[27] His poor season and high salary also led to speculation that Phaneuf might be traded. .[28] In spite of his struggles, Phaneuf averaged 26 minutes and 31 seconds of ice time per game, fourth highest in the league.[27] He missed the final game of the Flames quarter-final series against the Chicago Blackhawks with broken ribs,[29] after battling a hip injury during the season.[30] Flames management defended Phaneuf, claiming that the injuries he battled affected his play.[31]

[edit]Toronto Maple Leafs

On January 31, 2010, the Flames dealt Phaneuf, along with Fredrik Sjöström and Keith Aulie to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for Matt StajanNiklas HagmanIan White and Jamal Mayers.[32]

On February 2, 2010, Phaneuf made his Toronto Maple Leaf debut, leading all Maple Leafs players in time on ice and ended the night with a fight and given 2nd star of the game honours. He would record his first point, an assist, four nights later in a game against the Ottawa Senators and scored his first goal as a Leaf on April 7, 2010, on Henrik Lundqvist of the New York Rangers. Phaneuf was named an alternate captain in Toronto nine games after being acquired after Mike Komisarek suffered a season-ending injury.[33] While Phaneuf struggled offensively to begin his tenure in Toronto – he played 25 games in Toronto before scoring his first goal – Leafs coach Ron Wilson credited him with creating a positive change in the mood in the Toronto dressing room.[34][35]

Dion Phaneuf was named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs on June 14, 2010, at a press conference held by Brian Burke, succeeding Mats Sundin, who left after the 2007–08 season.[36]

On November 2, 2010, in a game against the Ottawa Senators, Phaneuf sustained an injury in the leg by having it cut open with a skate from Peter Regin while crashing into the boards. He was carried off the ice immediately and had surgery done the same night. Phaneuf was said to be off the ice for four to six weeks,[37] and made a return to the Leafs’ lineup on Thursday December 9, 2010,[38] a home ice game against the Philadelphia Flyers, which Philadelphia won 4 – 1, but he had 1 assist on the lone Toronto goal.[39]

On January 5, 2012, it was announced that Phaneuf would compete in his third NHL All-Star Game, having finished second amongst all Defensemen on the fan ballot, gaining 614,933 votes, behind theOttawa Senators Erik Karlsson.

[edit]International

Dion Phaneuf
 Dion Phaneuf
Medal record
Competitor for 22px Flag of Canada.svg Dion Phaneuf Canada
Men’s ice hockey
World Junior Championships
Silver 2004 Helsinki Ice hockey
Gold 2005 Grand Forks Ice hockey
World Championships
Gold 2007 Moscow Ice hockey

Phaneuf made his international debut for the Canadian junior team at the 2004 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships in Helsinki, Finland, earning a leadership role under head coach Mario Durocher.[40] A devastating bodycheck to the Czech Republic’s Rostislav Olesz led the referee to eject Phaneuf from the semi-final game, however he escaped suspension and was permitted to play in the gold medal game.[41] The Canadians lost the final to the United States,[42] while Phaneuf was named a tournament All-Star at defence.[43]

The Canadian team at the 2005 World Junior Ice Hockey Championships dominated the tournament, outscoring their opposition 35–6 in the games leading up to the gold medal match-up with Russia.[44] Phaneuf scored a goal and threw a memorable bodycheck that knocked down two Russian players in the championship game as Canada routed the Russians 6–1 to win their first gold medal in eight years.[45][46] He was again named a tournament All-Star,[43]as well as being named the outstanding defenceman of the tournament.[45] He was described as one of the most intimidating players of the tournament for a Canadian team that has been called the greatest of all-time.[47][48]

Following the Flames’ elimination in the 2007 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Phaneuf joined the Canadian senior team at the 2007 Men’s World Ice Hockey Championships in Moscow.[49] He recorded eight assists in seven games to help Canada win the gold medal over Finland.[50] Once considered a virtual lock to join team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics,[51] Phaneuf’s struggles in the 2008–09 NHL season placed his candidacy in doubt. National team general manager Steve Yzerman continued to express confidence in Phaneuf during a summer camp held in Calgary,[52] but Phaneuf was not among the seven defencemen selected for the team.[53]

[edit]Playing style

In junior hockey, Phaneuf was known not only for his physical presence, but also his calm demeanour and offensive ability. He was compared to Hockey Hall of Famer Scott Stevens by his former coach, Brent Sutter.[7] Scouts praised his defensive ability, and the poise he showed at both ends of the ice.[7]Praised for his leadership abilities, Phaneuf was named the captain of team WHL at the 2004 ATD Canada-Russia Challenge,[54] and was counted upon to take a leadership role with the Canadian junior team at the 2004 and 2005 World Junior Championships.[40]

Entering his sophomore season, Phaneuf’s potential impact on a game was compared to that of Russian star Alexander Ovechkin,[55] and a poll released by ESPN in 2008 revealed that 43% of players asked argued Phaneuf was the hardest hitter in hockey, at the age of 22.[56] He was named an alternate captain by the Flames at the start of the 2008–09 season, though Brent Sutter chose to alternate amongst a group of veterans, including Phaneuf, in2009–10.[57]

While he earned a James Norris Memorial Trophy nomination for his defensive play in 2008, he struggled enough during the 2008–09 season that some observers began to question his defensive commitment. Phaneuf’s teammates were quick to defend his play and noted that he was among the league leaders in average time on ice per game.[27] His hitting game has also earned criticism at times. The New York Islanders were especially upset at an open-ice charge Phaneuf delivered to Kyle Okposo during a 2009 exhibition game that resulted in the latter player suffering a concussion.[58] Phaneuf has also been criticized for occasionally refusing to fight opponents who challenge him after throwing a big hit.[59] For his part, Phaneuf stated he does not believe that he should be forced to fight after every big hit, though he would do so when necessary. His coaches have praised Phaneuf’s mentality.[60] He has also been accused of playing “dirty” and “stupid” by opponents who feel that he occasionally takes unnecessary liberties with opposing players.[61] A 2010Sports Illustrated poll of 229 NHL players saw 21% of respondents name Phaneuf as the most overrated player in the league, three times as many votes as any other player. Phaneuf dismissed the poll while several of his current and former teammates expressed their disagreement with the result.[62]

[edit]Off the ice

Phaneuf has maintained a much publicized relationship with actress Elisha Cuthbert, and the pair frequently participate in charitable events in Calgary.[63] Their relationship became the centre of controversy when then-Dallas Stars forward Sean Avery, who had dated Cuthbert in the past, commented on how other NHL players, referring to Phaneuf, fell in love with his “sloppy seconds”.[64]Commissioner Gary Bettman referred to the remarks as “disgusting” and suspended Avery six games while the Stars cut ties with the player.[65][66]

While with the Flames, he was the official ambassador to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary and donated tickets to Flames games to help families at the facility.[67] The Flames named him the recipient of the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award in 2008 in recognition of his participation with the Children’s Hospital.[68] Phaneuf has appeared on the cover of the NHL 09 video game,[69] and played a role in NHL promotions and commercials.[70] He has appeared in a video supporting You Can Play, a campaign dedicated to fighting homophobia in sports.[71]

[edit]Career statistics

[edit]Regular season and playoffs

Regular season Playoffs
Season Team League GP G A Pts PIM GP G A Pts PIM
2001–02 Red Deer Rebels WHL 67 5 12 17 170 21 0 2 2 14
2002–03 Red Deer Rebels WHL 71 16 14 30 185 23 7 7 14 34
2003–04 Red Deer Rebels WHL 62 19 24 43 126 19 2 9 11 30
2004–05 Red Deer Rebels WHL 55 24 32 56 73 7 1 4 5 12
2005–06 Calgary Flames NHL 82 20 29 49 93 7 1 0 1 7
2006–07 Calgary Flames NHL 79 17 33 50 98 6 1 0 1 7
2007–08 Calgary Flames NHL 82 17 43 60 182 7 3 4 7 4
2008–09 Calgary Flames NHL 80 11 36 47 100 5 0 3 3 4
2009–10 Calgary Flames NHL 55 10 12 22 49
2009–10 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 26 2 8 10 34
2010–11 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 66 8 22 30 88
2011–12 Toronto Maple Leafs NHL 82 12 32 44 92
WHL totals 255 64 82 146 554 70 10 22 32 90
NHL totals 552 97 215 312 736 25 5 7 12 22

[edit]International

Year Team Comp GP G A Pts PIM
2004 Canada WJC 6 2 2 4 29
2005 Canada WJC 6 1 5 6 14
2007 Canada WC 7 0 8 8 2
2011 Canada WC 7 0 3 3 8
Totals 26 3 18 21 53

[edit]All-Star Games

Year Location G A P
2007 Dallas 1 1 2
2008 Atlanta 1 0 1
All-Star totals 2 1 3

[edit]Awards and honours

Award Year
Junior
WHL Eastern Conference All-Star Team 2003–04
2004–05
[43]
CHL First All-Star team 2003–04 [43]
Bill Hunter Memorial Trophy 2003–04
2004–05
[43]
National Hockey League
All-Rookie Team 2005-06 [72]
All-Star Game 200720082012 [73]
Elimination Shootout 2008 [74]
First Team All-Star 2007–08 [24]
Calgary Flames team awards
Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award 2007–08 [68]
International
World Junior All-Star team 2004
2005
[43]
World Junior Directorate Award for Best Defenceman 2005 [75]

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