Is Dion Phaneuf A Good Captain ?


There are things that go on with sports teams and athletes that members of the media simply don’t report on. The question I guess is where the line should be drawn. What’s fair game and what’s off limits. Many of us, I am sure, remember the old Gary Leeman, Al Secord rumblings. I am pretty sure that none of that every got written. There was no internet back then and the 24 hour news coverage wasn’t what it is today. As the saying went regarding Bill Clinton, if CNN, FOX or MSNBC were around during the lives of past presidents their legacy’s may not be what they are.

Why do I raise this tonight?

“Whether Phaneuf, best known for his Day One command of the dressing-room stereo, can be a voice for team-wide harmony remains an open question. Some close to the team believe, citing Phaneuf’s absence from Sundin’s shindigs, that he is tone deaf to what’s expected of the playing face of a heritage club, not to mention unwilling to ask for advice. Many found it curious in this week’s blowout loss that Phaneuf passed on chances to fight the likes of long-time nemesis Scott Hartnell and instead turned his late-game wrath on Flyers rookie Brayden Schenn. Schenn’s brother, Luke, of course, is Toronto’s longest serving defenceman. The tete-a-tete fuelled long-held speculation that the tension that exists between Phaneuf and Toronto’s Schenn is a cancerous dressing-room presence. It also had more than one former Leaf questioning the captain’s wherewithal.”

Dave Feschuk in the column from which that quote originates has pointed a spotlight on something that’s been whispered numerous times in my ears, that is that captain Dion has been less than an stellar influence on Luke Schenn. This is, the first time I’ve seen the issue reported on. I have heard it enough times this season that when I was in the car listening to the “game” (if you can call it that) and I heard Luke’s brother was fighting Dion, I wondered if Brayden decided to do that which Luke certainly cannot.

I am really curious to see if Feschuck is now a pioneer, has he opened the floodgates for the MSMers to start writing more on the captaincy of Dion Phaneuf. This will be VERY interesting to watch.

More on Dion:

“On a weekend on which Sundin, Phaneuf’s predecessor as chief Leaf, was feted with separate receptions on Friday and Saturday night, at least three former players who attended the events say Phaneuf never showed up to pay his respects to Sundin.

“Dion’s absence was noted,” said one former player.

Another ex-NHLer, who pointed out that even members of the Canadiens made time to honour Sundin, guffawed at Phaneuf’s oversight.

“It’s a no-brainer: If you’re the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, you go. Period,” said an ex-Leaf. “That’s part of learning what it’s like to be a captain. (Phaneuf) has a lot to learn. The former players asked not to be named because Phaneuf is seen as a golden boy by Brian Burke, the Leafs president and general manager, who despite his team’s epic free-fall through the standings remains an influential figure in NHL circles. ”

So anyone want to take bets on who the former leafs are?

I have no idea, none, zip, zilch, nadda, however I’d wager a beer or two on Tie Domi and or Gary Roberts being part of a small pool of potential vets who would make comments like that.

It’s an interesting time for the captain.

Did you see Damien’s tweet about him the other day:

“Don’t know if Dion Phaneuf is a good captain. But everytime he dons Red Bull hat for an interview, he’s putting himself ahead of his team.”

I’ll say this, Dion is the quietest Leafs captain we’ve had in a long time. I don’t think fans identify with him at all. Maybe that matters, maybe it doesn’t.

The rumors swirling about him and how he may have treated or treats Luke Schenn aren’t flattering.

Personally, I think Dion takes a lions share of the blame for the collapse of the team this year. He is a veteran, he is the captain. This is supposed to be his team. One guy shouldn’t take it all on, but only 1 guy gets to be the captain.

Happy Saturday!


Photo from here

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Lord Stanley
Lord Stanley
March 31, 2012 4:04 am

The Story I was told was Borje beat up Leeman in the shower and Eddie O knew about what leeman was doing and did nothing and was no longer liked on the team.

This was from a former leaf (Pat Graham) who lived in the next building..

Ami Angelwings
March 31, 2012 4:53 am

I’ve never understood how the Dion Phaneuf/Ipod thing was supposed to be an example of his leadership skills.

Leadership would be if there was a fight over what to play and he brokered a compromise.

Walking into a locker room and deciding you want to listen to the music you want to listen and damn everybody else isn’t leadership, it’s being a jerk… or a bully.

March 31, 2012 6:41 am

Amazing point. All I can think of when that situation is brought up is Albert Belle (or Bell cannot remember). He wanted the locker room colder so he turned it down and then smashed the thermistat with a bat. ‘Leadership’ was not used once..a-hole and bully were. The media destroyed him. The two scenes do not seem that far apart and one of the two has been done repeatedly.

March 31, 2012 8:04 am

My new hero for reporters is Lance Brown!!
Kudos to him for asking the questions NO OTHER REPORTER would!!
Lance works for CTV(Toronto).
Lance is the guy after Tuesday’s loss to the ‘Canes, who asked about leadership in the dressing room. I don’t have a link, but if you get a chance to see it, watch Dion Phaneuf’s reaction to the question. PRICELESS!
These are the kinds of questions NEEDED to be asked! Not pussy footing around worrying if Brian Burke is going to have a hate on for them if they do indeed ask the tough questions.
Lance Brown needs more recognition!

Another Steve
Another Steve
March 31, 2012 8:46 am

Totally disagree with the praise for Lance Brown.

I thought Brown’s comments were more of the “being a dick” nature. Asking a player whether he is good at his job at the end of a bad season is not very challenging. In fact, for the athlete there’s no answer to that question. As far as I am concerned, Phaneuf answered Brown in the most responsible way that he could, which to me proves his diplomatic abilities.

The role of a hockey captain strikes me a greatly over-rated, anyway. Messier was considered great because he had this great stare and I think people looked at Dion’s stare and thought that meant that he would also be a good captain. Whatever.

For my part, I’d like to see someone ask Brown whether he is having a good year as a reporter and whether the fact that he is covering the Leafs for a story is indicative of his lack of reporting skills. Then we could look at his response as well. I bet he wouldn’t be so polite in response.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
March 31, 2012 8:55 am

Burke created the mess, Celine is just another example of a bad hockey move. Bottom line, this collection of players do not have the skills needed to compete at the NHL level. Make no mistake, Burke is the captain of this team. Lance Brown is bang on, he will now be added to bully Burkes dirtbag list. Good on ya Lance. The “C” should be removed from Celine, also the “A’s” from the other players. Sundin was a true leader, in the room where it counts the most. For him to be snubbed by the present captain if true, also shows Celine to be as gutless off ice as he is on. Don’t pout Shenn, up your game, earn that “C.”

Al in Burlington
Al in Burlington
March 31, 2012 10:28 am

Maybe it Is just me, but Phaneuf does not seem too bright or confident when he is being interviewed. If he projects this image to his teammates then I do not think they will respect him as a leader.

March 31, 2012 1:11 pm

Ami nailed it. A bully doesn’t make a good leader. But perhaps Burke saw something of himself in Dion, and therefore, gave him the C. Obviously a big mistake. Here in Calgary, many saw him as a cancer and celebrated his departure. (The Flames have many other problems, mind.) So, I expect this time next year, the new Leaf GM will see shipping Phanuef out as a top priority, and begin again.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
March 31, 2012 2:04 pm

with nothing else to contribute to this debate, here’s an update on the feel-good Ryan Leaf story (w/ new mugshot photo):

March 31, 2012 2:05 pm

“Dion is the quietest Leafs captain we’ve had in a long time”

This should not be relevant. Dave Keon wasn’t exactly the most outgoing person in the room, but I’m sure nobody ever questioned his leadership skills. You lead by example. What example is Phaneuf setting?

Ami Angelwings
March 31, 2012 2:50 pm

@Robert, it’s okay to be quiet though, you know that old saying:

“Speak softly, and change other people’s music”

March 31, 2012 3:39 pm

I didn’t read the post when I first saw it but got to thinking about it, figured out what bothers me about Phanouf and came back to read it and post. And for me, Damien nailed it.

The fucking Red Bull hat.

My favourite sport by far is auto racing, so I have no problem with sponsor driven sports, but hockey isn’t one.

I guess if he really is Burke’s golden boy no one will ever tell him not to wear it, but it doesn’t impress me and I suspect it doesn’t impress all those former captains he ignores.

Lee (Oakville)
March 31, 2012 5:08 pm

I guess every time I see Sidney Crosby wearing a Reebok hat I should think less of him. Garbage reasoning from Damien Cox.

March 31, 2012 5:57 pm

First thing about the Crosby comment is that he’s usually winning. Taking time to put the sponsors logo is a little different if you’re winning rather than trying to explain a 7-1 loss and another missed playoffs. I’m less offended by hockey related sponsors because, by my perception, they’re not so crass. I know people love to pick on Cox, but I don’t think “garbage reasoning” fits here. Unless you think Dion Phanouf is the same kind of captain as say, Thurmon Munson.

Lee (Oakville)
March 31, 2012 6:36 pm

Whether a captain is winning or losing is irrelevant to the argument. If Phaneuf is criticized for wearing a sponsors’ hat (and putting himself in front of the team, as per Cox), the same criteria should be used for Crosby (who is paid millions by Reebok) or any other team athlete that wear endosers’ paraphanelia during team-related interviews. To argue otherwise is inconsistent and hypocritical.

March 31, 2012 7:15 pm

I can’t say you’re wrong but for me it’s about the perception. Either way, Cox may feel the same way about Crosby but hasn’t said it. I’m obviously speaking only for myself.

March 31, 2012 7:23 pm

Nobody taking into account that Reebok is the official outfitter of the NHL?

Lee (Oakville)
April 1, 2012 8:40 am

The Crosby/Reebok connection is simply an example – as I stated, any athlete wearing non-team gear should be the subject of Cox’s wrath, not just Phaneuf,

April 1, 2012 5:05 pm

Steve Simmons said in today’s Sunday column that Phaneuf and Schenn aren’t getting along.

Ami Angelwings
April 2, 2012 2:56 am

Hey peoples! If I started a Primetime Sports fangirl tumblr… do you think the name of the blog should be “Kicking Ass, Taking Names” or “You can’t be a little bit pregnant” or “Primetime Princess” or something else? :3

Ami Angelwings
April 2, 2012 3:15 am

I think it’s irrelevant whether or not players wear apparel that has the logo of their sponsors. It might be TACKY, but I don’t think it really affects anything, and I don’t see the difference between a player sponsor, a team sponsor, or a league sponsor… it’s still people being a human billboard, and in fact, more power to the players for wearing something that will make THEM money directly instead of only the owners. (I know that they all benefit if the league makes more money, but I still think it’s great if they are able to cut their own deals and not rely just on the CBA and the league.)

I certainly don’t see how Phaneuf is putting himself ahead of the team. It’s just a hat. If he wore the same hat as Phil Kessel would that show some sort of special solidarity to him that would make him a better player? Is Phil Kessel crying because Phaneuf isn’t wearing a brand that Kessel likes?

As somebody above pointed out, although I know they didn’t mean it this way: it’s only an issue because the Leafs are losing. Just like drinking beer and eating chicken wings is only an issue because the Red Sox imploded. When you win, growing your moustache out was a great idea and lightened the mood of the lockeroom, when you lose, it was a horrible idea that caused a distraction.

If you removed the hat from Phaneuf for all of next season, do people honestly believe the Leafs would be a better team?

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
April 2, 2012 7:54 am

Damien is right, when you are captain of a 14th place team the optics for Phaneuf are terrible. Crosby is the best player in hockey, how do you compare both situations and think they are equal. Ami it’s the “code” the hockey “culture” that Phaneuf is sticking his finger up to, not cool from a so called leader.

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 2, 2012 7:56 am

i just heard that Burke is the highest paid executive in the NHL and the Leafs have the most expensive front office in the NHL. is this true? if so, that is hysterical and pathetic.

What has Burke done to deserve to run this team next year? No playoffs, no star prospects, cap team, golden parachute contracts to lame duck coaches, and a huge amount of money tied up in endless A-GMs …

IS there a young executive MLSE could recruit to take over? It’s time to let someone else run this team. I don’t follow the NHL but it seems obvious that Burke can’t compete in today’s NHL.

April 2, 2012 8:46 am

I’m sure they have the most front office staff in the NHL. It seems like they have one for every day of the week. Doesn’t seem to be helping much. But maybe that’s just my perception.

And on that note, did anyone see Sidney Crosby’s post game scrum from yesterday? Pens cap. Just sayin’.

sam in oshawa
sam in oshawa
April 2, 2012 9:45 am

Burke is worth every penny, just ask him! Sid post game, usually team cap. Camera’s and mic’s on, all about the team. He owns the room, leader.

April 2, 2012 10:11 am

“IS there a young executive MLSE could recruit to take over? It’s time to let someone else run this team. I don’t follow the NHL but it seems obvious that Burke can’t compete in today’s NHL.”

The Leafs already tried that, and I guess you don’t follow the Leafs, because JFJ is the primary reason we’re in this situation.

Steve from Waterloo
Steve from Waterloo
April 2, 2012 10:20 am

“IS there a young executive MLSE could recruit to take over? It’s time to let someone else run this team.”

I think there John Ferguson Jr may have some untapped potential….

mike (in boston)
mike (in boston)
April 2, 2012 10:33 am

for those of you thinking about clicking on the link for Cox’s column that is receiving top billing at the Star, i’ll save you the time:

– canadian teams are very profitable, yet a low percentage of them are making the playoffs

– many US teams are in financial trouble, yet a higher percentage of them are making the playoffs

– GOTTA ASK THE QUESTION: are Canadian fans to blame for this state of affairs?

– QUESTION ANY REASONABLE PERSON WOULD ASK (but of course is missing from Cox’s piece): is there a plausible connection between fan support and competent management.


CONCLUSION: Cox is a talentless writer.

Al in Burlington
Al in Burlington
April 2, 2012 1:03 pm

From Larry Brooks, NY Post –
“This just in: Toronto general manager Brian Burke became so incensed upon hearing the mock chants of “Let’s Go Blue Jays” during Thursday’s Flyers’ rout of the Maple Leafs at the Air Canada Centre he fired Jays’ manager John Farrell.”

April 2, 2012 1:16 pm

@ Ami

Hey peoples! If I started a Primetime Sports fangirl tumblr… do you think the name of the blog should be “Kicking Ass, Taking Names” or “You can’t be a little bit pregnant” or “Primetime Princess” or something else? :3

Love the idea, may I suggest

“Cite the case”

April 2, 2012 1:48 pm

Fire Burke – hire Neil Smith.

Won’t happen but that’s how you start to fix the Leafs.

Ami Angelwings
April 2, 2012 4:18 pm

How did I forget “Cite the case”? XD

April 3, 2012 1:27 pm

First of all, Burke did not make Phaneuf Captain. That was actually Ron Wilson’s idea. Secondly, Damien Cox and Steve Simmons are two of the most moronic and idiotic Leafs media I’ve ever seen. I feel ashamed they represent the Leafs media because they are awful at their job. Nobody knows if Phaneuf is a good captain except the people in the locker room. Yeah, the team blows. Yeah they had a horrendous end of the season. Burke needs to make some big changes in the off season otherwise if the Leafs are in the same spot at this time next year, Burke will be gone and we’ll be going through yet another rebuild. It becomes depressing being a Leafs fan…

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Bob Davie
Bob Davie
September 21, 2013 10:54 am

I saw 6 of the 7 post game players interviews re the Boston Toronto 2013 playoffs.
The 3 games that the leafs won, Phaneuf wore a Red Bull Cap
The 3 games that the Leaks lost, he wore a Leaf Cap
Enough said.

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