Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Dion Phaneuf: The Shakespearean Tragedy

Dion Phaneuf may go down in history as that guy who made a career out of being really really good in junior and playing on the strongest World Junior team we'll ever see. Everything after the lockout, and, well, Phaneufs career has really gone to shits.

People will constantly say that no defenseman has scored more goals than Dion Phaneuf since he came into the league. This is true. No defenseman has also missed as many shots in the past four seasons, and, while there's no statistic to really prove it, no defenseman skates after pucks he's misplayed so much.

Phaneuf was booed out of Calgary last season, and was booed early on this season despite Leafs fans high expectations. He was named Captain after the Leafs played three seasons without one because Ron Wilson didn't think anybody was worthy enough. Now, Toronto see an All-Star defenseman in blue and white and think "well, gee, he was pretty terrible at the end of his career in Calgary. Maybe he needed a change of scenery."

What they didn't really realize was that Dion Phaneuf would go ahead and quickly become the teams' worst even strength defender. While Phaneuf sits at -4, somehow other top Toronto defensemen like Tomas Kaberle, Fran├žois Beauchemin and Luke Schenn sit at a combined +9. No player on the Leafs has been on the ice for more goals at even strength (9 through 11 games). He was booed after the last Toronto home game and had to be publicly defended by Brian Burke. With no goals through 11 games, unlike another snakebitten Leafs player like Mikael Grabovski, he has simply not produced anywhere else. His PDO is 91.1%, so while there's reason to believe he could turn it around, he is also playing badly.

Last night's injury, in an awkward collision with Peter Regin left a lot to be desired. He can't even get a bit sore without it looking like a Shakesperean tragedy. Booed at one home game, and injured the next. This is not the Double Dion we were looking for.

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