Everyone seems to have an opinion on Maple Leafs Captain Dion Phaneuf. Mostly it is negative. That’s not the issue. But instead of telling the truth we tend to use words that sound like a slap on the wrist rather than a knife to the gut.
My criticism of Phanuef is that he is soft. He can’t stand up to bigger guys when he is on the ice. In turn, he gets pushed around and opponents take advantage of that. When Phaneuf came out of Junior in 2005, he was known to knock opponents down, move the puck to the net, and drop the gloves when he needs to. Kind of like Zdeno Chara of the Boston Bruins. That is what Leafs fans were hoping for when Brian Burke acquired him from Calgary 4 years ago. Lately, we’ve seen flashes of the old Dion but he is still nowhere near of what he is capable of.
People prefer to use words like pylon instead of soft. Soft means weak. Pylon is a rather safer word to use. It is more politically correct to say he stands around too much rather than saying he can’t knock a small guy down like Tomas Plekanic. So we can’t say soft to describe the Leafs’ Captain? Those on forums and social media may sound angry towards Phaneuf but that’s just a cover. Listen to the words they use and it is clear they don’t want to see Phaneuf as weak.
Now I know you are saying: c’mon, you are complaining about people’s choice of words? Let’s get one thing straight. Leafs Nation nowadays is being hijacked by a bunch of rogues who don’t like hockey the way it is meant to be played. They like players who are soft. Why is there all the talk from the media about the Leafs needing more skill and not needing guys like David Clarkson, Colton Orr, and Fraser McLaren? If anything, Phaneuf is merely trying to appease them and he is making them look bad. By the way, you can also put Clarkson into the same category as Phaneuf. He needs to step up his game or he will be seeing more time in the press box.
I don’t know if Phaneuf can be the same guy he was 10 years ago. And his contract with the Leafs will make him hard to trade, at least for now. Not to mention that people in Toronto have a penchant of devaluing players. But Phaneuf can’t continue to play the way he is now. Those around the league are recognizing the fact that he is soft. Too bad the rest of Leafs Nation don’t see it the same way.