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Phaneuf: the next Leaf captain

This much is clear: the Leafs have sorely lacked leadership since Mats Sundin was here. The team hasn’t had a captain for too long.

When you think about great leaders through the years in hockey, certain names come to mind: Jean Beliveau and later Bob Gainey in Montreal, Bobby Clarke in Philadelphia, Denis Potvin with the Islanders, Gretzky and Messier in Edmonton and later, New York. I also think about, Ray Bourque in Boston, Scott Stevens with New Jersey and Steve Yzerman through the ‘90s and 2000s with the Red Wings.

Great teams need great leaders.

When was the last time a team won a Stanley Cup with alternating captains—or no captain at all?

Can there be any doubt: Dion Phaneuf will ease into the Leaf line-up this season, display his leadership, and this summer, he will be named the next captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

If he performs as he is capable of performing, he can be the leader on this team for years to come, as Stevens was in New Jersey, and Sundin was before him in Toronto.

Stevens started his career in Washington and then St. Louis, and went to New Jersey as ‘compensation’ when Brendan Shanahan signed with St. Louis. He became a Hall-of-Fame defenseman. We don’t know how Phaneuf’s career will unfold, but he has the kind of toughness that Stevens displayed.


One other comment on the trade: when media observers were speculating about who Burke might be able to get for Stajan, Blake, Hagman, etc. the feeling was. Maybe a second-round choice, perhaps a third-rounder.

Instead, the Leafs get a high first round draft choice with five years of NHL experience and they don’t have to wait six years for an 18 year-old to possibly help the team.


A final shout-out to Ian White: Here is a “under-sized” guy (click on his name to read my earlier post comparing him with former Black Hawk great Pat Stapleton) who was an afterthought in the minds of Leaf fans, when we were all talking about Carlo Colaiacovo, Brendan Bell and Jay Harrison.

He eventually passed them all on the depth chart, in playing time, and was the last of that young d-group to leave town.


  1. Having covered Phaneuf a bit in my career, I will have to respectfully disagree. At his best, he is a strong leader by example and logs ice time, but he is at best an alternate captain.

    He is a very self-involved person and he was not a very stable presence in the Calgary locker room.

    Great acquisition for Toronto, certainly a cornerstone going forward but like Kessel he a great talent, not a great leader.

  2. I am not for or against Dion Phaneuf as captain of the Maple Leafs, although based on his one-game performance he seems to be a likely candidate. For the past year Leafs management has heen saying to the players "none of you are good enough to captain this team." That kind of top level position does not exactly instil confidence where confidence is needed most, in the dressing room and on the ice. In lieu of the next coming of Syl Apps or Jean Beliveau, why not sew the "C" on the blue and white sweater of a player who "leads by example", has the respect of his teammates and excites fans? Many players over the years, once awarded team captaincy, have matured almost overnight and acquited themselves to the task quite admirably.
    The Leafs are lacking a team leader. Right now Phaneuf has the potential to take on that role. Why not make it official with him, better sooner than later.
    P.S. If I was a millionaire hockey player with a beautiful actress as my main squeeze, I would be self-involved too.
    Regards, Dick Wright