Over the past few days I have heard and read it all.
Here are two of my favourites:
"He can't skate backwards." Good one, next trick. How in the world could a defenceman who finished third in Norris Trophy voting and has been to two NHL all-star games, play in the NHL and not be able to skate backwards?
"He is bad guy in the locker room." Who comes up with this crap?
Phaneuf loves being an NHL player. He is full of life and gets the fact that it is an honour and a privilege to be an NHL player. In Calgary, he was a guy who gave to charity, not once in a while, but took giving to others on as a full-time position.
He was the ambassador of the Alberta Children's Hospital. As a teammate, he took Mark Giordano in to live with him and rescued him from the hotel. He taught Giordano how to be an NHL player. The irony here is that one of the reasons for trading Dion is that Giordano has emerged as one of the Flames' best defencemen.
Giordano is an unrestricted free agent after next year and Calgary will need Phaneuf's dollars to satisfy Giordano's contractual demands. Phaneuf has great people skills and was a leader in the Calgary locker room at a young age. These are not the characteristics of a bad person.
Here is the reality of the trade:
Phaneuf's fate was sealed when the Flames signed Jay Bouwmeester to a five-year deal on June 30, 2009. That signing put the Flames in the tough position of having $27-million US of cap money going to the team's blue-line. That's too much money for that position when you look at how other successful teams are built.
Washington spends about $15 million on their D. Chicago, San Jose and New Jersey are all around $18 million for their defensive group. Spend $27 million on your D and now you can see why the team can't score. Goalie Miikka Kiprusoff can't score either, so tack on another $7 million that can't be spent on offence. Take it one step further and when the deal was done with Bouwmeester, Mike Cammalleri was forced to leave Calgary for Montreal.
No one has to explain the divisiveness of the current Collective Bargaining Agreement to the players. Signings and cap dollars affect everyone. When Dion signed his contract extension that would take him past unrestricted free agency, there was a dollar value to those UFA years and the result was big compensation and lots of term. Dion's contract meant the end to Rhett Warrener and Anders Eriksson as Calgary regulars. (I know Warrener needed surgery but if the Flames could not have used long-term injury status for cap relief then he was gone).
Phaneuf may have been shocked when he heard of the trade, but it was a forgone conclusion. It was the same conclusion that Jean-Sebastien Giguere must have come to when he heard that the Anaheim Ducks had signed Jonas Hiller to his new deal for starting goaltender dollars. Now both are wearing Toronto Maple Leaf sweaters.
It took 60 minutes for Leaf fans to benefit from Anaheim's cap casualty in the form of a Giguere shutout. It took all of four minutes of hockey for Phaneuf to change the culture of the Leafs. I guess salary caps are good for something.
Do you have improvements to suggest for this page?