With the Maple Leafs beginning training camp Thursday, we thought a good starting point would be addressing one of the most polarizing athletes in Toronto: Dion Phaneuf.
It only heightened when Toronto GM Dave Nonis signed the Leafs captain to a monster 7-year, $49-million US contract last December.
That’s the type of contract reserved for a No. 1 defencemen, the type of which Phaneuf is not.
Naturally the contract gave fans fuel to ridicule the Leafs’ blue-liner, whose defensive breakdowns continually trigger humourous reactions on social media.
In a piece that my colleague Mike Dennis wrote regarding the eight worst NHL contracts for Canadian teams, more than 56 per cent picked Phaneuf’s deal as the least desirable in a CBCSports.ca poll, easily outdistancing the Sedin twins, who were second at 17.25 per cent.
This is a critical season for Phaneuf and the Leafs. Toronto has missed the playoffs in eight of its last nine years, and don’t expect Phaneuf to get a ringing endorsement from new president Brendan Shanahan if he or the franchise gets off to a slow start.
But should the Leafs even take a wait-and-see approach with Phaneuf? After all, he was constantly linked to trade rumours throughout last season.
As I've noted, Phaneuf gets roasted by Leaf fans on a regular basis.
leaf fans mocking our team cause we have 4 Alternates ? hahah , pretty funny coming from leaf fans whos Captain is Dion Phaneuf? LOL— @Chris_MTL24
So I saw Dion Phaneuf at the mall yesterday pic.twitter.com/pS64C4F0mS— @Mike_Angelo15