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