Mar 25, 2014; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; St. Louis Blues left wing Alexander Steen (20) knocks down Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Dion Phaneuf (3) in front of the net before scoring a goal during the second period at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Tom Szczerbowski-USA TODAY Sports

Dion Phaneuf Is Not What’s Wrong With The Toronto Maple Leafs!


When Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf refused to speak with the media after Tuesday’s 5-3 debacle of a game, it was quite easy to predict what it was going to lead to. In the ensuing days, the chatter on the hockey airwaves revolved around whether Phaneuf really cares about his team, his skills as a leader, and his toughness as a hockey player. With the Leafs in the midst of a brutal losing streak, it’s no surprise that things boiled over. However, we are not in the locker room, so who are we to judge Phaneuf’s leadership abilities. He chose not to speak to the media, whom the last time I checked, are not wearing Leafs sweaters.

I did my best to ignore this, until one of the many hockey shows I listen to throughout the day devoted about thirty minutes today to this entire issue. Their advice? Dion Phaneuf has to prove his toughness and show he cares by roughing some people up in any scrums tonight with the Philadelphia Flyers. If he drops the gloves and punches a few faces, then he proves he really cares.

It’s this neanderthal thinking that drives me insane when it comes to some hockey fans. The Leafs have been pitiful on both defense and offense during the losing streak, so the logical thing to do is to have one of your best defenseman / offensive threat spend five minutes sitting in the penalty box. I am sure he will work his way out of his slump there.

What if Phaneuf drops the gloves and manages to hurt himself? Then we have to endure another two weeks of the same talking heads complain about “staged fighting” and question why someone else didn’t step up for the Leafs, forcing Phaneuf to fight. If he doesn’t get hurt, they will in turn say it shows he cannot control his emotions and isn’t fit to wear the C.

So do you see why I find this type of discussion meaningless? Regardless of what the guy does people will complain. Things are bad for Toronto right now, last week it was Reimer’s fault. This week it’s Phaneuf as a leader. We can point the blame any direction you want (trust me, in that 30 minute show I listened to I think they named the entire Leafs roster). Maybe sometimes you’re just in a slump and stink.

Tags: Toronto Maple Leafs

  • D.WAdair

    Good article Mike you hit the nail on the head, if all these talk show hosts are so smart why are they sitting behind a mike.

  • Peg_C

    We’re not in the dressing room of any team but we see good captains all over the place. David Backes’s leadership is on display at all times. Furthermore he takes public ownership of his mistakes and leads the Blues by example when they win AND lose. Toews is a very obvious outstanding captain; Landeskog as well. So is Ovechkin and without a doubt Stamkos is becoming one. There’s no evidence of this with Phaneuf. No one on the Leafs is taking ownership of problems, Phaneuf more obviously than most. Yeah, maybe he’s a great leader, but we can’t see it, while we can see it in many teams around the league. The ones where you don’t see a good captain, the team is losing. (FYI, I live in NY so am not privy to any of the talk radio chatter re: the Leafs. But I read a lot.)

  • Peg_C

    When your captain contributes to more goals against than goals scored, you definitely have a problem.