My veritable blogging orgy continues thanks to the rare free time provided by the combination of a couple of flights — flights with on-demand movies I've already seen.
I actually decided to vacation to cut down on time spent in Toronto the past few weeks fending off "hey, Duncan, we sure fleeced you on that one!" taunts. I built my reply quickly:
1. Tell Leafs fan to enjoy his "quality play" while he's motivated
2. Do a pantomime of the patented Phaneuf manoeuvre where, rather than clearing the front of the net, he stands behind the goal line and weakly pokes his stick into the crease
3. Announce that I really like Ian White, which I do
Truth is, I also like Matt Stajan, and I think Niklas Hagman is a bit of an enigma who could be very useful. Jamal Mayers is barely worth talking about, but I hear he can win face-offs, which might be useful at some point this year. (More on my thoughts about the new guys, including Ales Kotalik and Chris Higgins, in a later post.)
I understand the questions about the value of the return, and whether the Flames could have received more in return. I haven't come around to deciding what I think on that one. I do think that, perhaps, this is the biggest "cap" deal in the era to date — the Flames needed to redistribute funds to the forward area, and they made the call to redistribute Dion.
As frustrating as Phaneuf has been the past three seasons, I've insisted they should hang onto him until just recently. The toolbox was just too valuable, and I know how mature I was at 23. But as much as I blame Darryl for a lot of things, I can't blame him for the decision to cut bait. Might it be difficult going through four head coaches and a bunch of assistants in such a short time early in your career? I'm not really sure. But I wouldn't expect regression from a player such as Phaneuf, and that's what's happened, steadily, since the Norris nomination.
So, in the end, I'd much rather have Bouwmeester at that salary than Phaneuf, despite the offensive dropoff — which, frankly, Mark Giordano and Ian White cancel out.
Also, Phaneuf does come across like a huge dick, and that does mean something. If the "Bouwmeester and Regehr hated him" rumours are true, it's not surprising. Of course, this could also mean he'll get along great with Ron Wilson, who's a great coach but a total asshole. That might be what Phaneuf needs, and my greatest fear is that Toronto suits the guy, and he becomes that "Scott Stevens with offence" threat everyone was expecting.
Toronto, as in the city, is certainly expecting it. They're still on Cloud 9 weeks after the fact at landing this player, who's immediately, without question, the biggest star here. It appears from his man date with Kessel at the Raptors game that he's getting along with the other big new star here, too.
I just wonder if they know what they're in for. Because Cloud 9, in my experience, doesn't last long in Toronto.