Maple Leafs-Flames Preview
In four-plus seasons with the Calgary Flames, Dion Phaneuf was
known for punishing hits, a hard shot and many goals.
Now as captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Phaneuf returns to
the Saddledome on Thursday night for the first time since the
Flames traded the former Calder and Norris Trophy candidate nearly
one year ago.
After making his NHL debut in October 2005 until Jan. 30,
Phaneuf led all defensemen with 75 goals and was fifth with 874
hits in 378 games – all in a Flames uniform. On Jan. 31, though,
Phaneuf was the centerpiece of a blockbuster seven-player trade
with Toronto that was expected to shake up two struggling
“It’s part of the business,” Phaneuf said. “It’s a cliche. If
Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can get traded.”
Neither Toronto (12-14-4) nor Calgary (13-15-3) have enjoyed any
great success since the swap. The Maple Leafs have gone 25-24-7
while the Flames posted a 26-27-5 record, and both clubs are
currently among the worst in their respective conferences.
Still, Olli Jokinen misses everything his former teammate
brought to the Flames.
“He was a guy who never wanted to leave. He wanted to stay
here,” Jokinen said. “He scored over 20 goals in his rookie year, a
Norris Trophy candidate. … I never had any problems with him, you
know? He’s a good teammate who played hard and practiced hard. I
would take him on my team any day.”
Phaneuf returned to his hometown of Edmonton in grand style by
opening the scoring with his first goal of the season in a 4-1 win
over the Oilers on Tuesday.
After playing in his third game after missing 16 with a
lacerated leg, Phaneuf was already looking ahead to Calgary.
“I played a lot of hockey there,” he said. “I have a lot of
respect for the organization and the players I played with there. A
lot of good friendships were made and I am looking forward to going
While the Maple Leafs are looking for their third straight win
and fifth in seven games, Calgary will be trying to notch
back-to-back victories for the first time since a season-high
three-game run Oct. 22-26.
Jarome Iginla scored his second goal of the game with 1:11 left
in overtime to give the Flames a 3-2 win over visiting Columbus on
The Flames captain has been red-hot lately, totaling five goals
and six assists in an eight-game point streak. However, the team is
ready to face Phaneuf – and knows what he’s capable of
“When has he ever played a quiet game out there?” defenseman
Cory Sarich said. “You don’t expect anything but vintage Dion. I’m
sure forwards, whether you guys print it or whether we say it, make
sure you’ve got your head up because he’ll definitely be looking to
make a statement.”
Calgary has won five straight at home against Toronto since
December 2002, including four one-goal victories and two in