Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Does Phaneuf Get Enough?

Kyle Farrington
Staff Writer

"Does Phaneuf get enough, what?", you ask.

...I'm talking about credit!

Undoubtedly, Dion Phaneuf receives the most criticism on this team. It doesn't come as a surprise, considering the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs usually gets kicked around the most. I'm sure Mats Sundin will back me up on that one.

Besides, night in and night out Phaneuf plays more than another other player. A good thing in some peoples' eyes, but to others it's just more time to point out his mistakes, in which to dwell on for the remainder of the game (and/or season).

Is that really what this has come to? It's no longer analyzing positives and negatives of a player. Many fans will pick out the proverbial "goat" - so to speak - and simply watch each game to count the amount of errors he makes. In turn, when this specific player makes a number of good plays, it goes unnoticed by these same people.

And this is exactly where Dion stands. It takes him years to win over fans, but just one shift to lose them.

On the flip side, a majority (or possibly a minority) of Leafs Nation cherishes having Phaneuf on the blue line. Playing an average of 25 minutes a night against top tier talent, a first pair penalty killer on the 2nd best penalty killing team in the NHL, all while producing the same amount of points as our #1 center.... (Sorry Tyler, I had to throw one at ya). It's not an easy job, and a short list of NHL players are capable of doing it.

Furthermore, everything Phaneuf has done thus far is with - at best - 2nd pair defensemen. His most suitable partner so far has been Carl Gunnarsson, and he would arguably only be a top 4 guy on most teams. Which isn't saying Gunnarsson is bad, because I could write pages on the value he holds.

I'm not claiming Phaneuf is perfect; he could definitely improve in some areas. But without him, I see a very large hole that will be difficult to fill.

As summer winds down, training camp is just around the corner. A new chapter begins for the Leafs, and certainly a crucial season for the captain.

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