Wednesday, March 10, 2010

to make us feel better: dion phaneuf

in the past few weeks i've taken an unforseen renewed interest in watching toronto maple leafs games.... hey, i used to watch that team all the time when i lived in toronto, and i will freely admit that without the likes of kaberle, antropov, and stajan (for good) and lumme, berg, and svehla (for humour), i probably wouldn't be half as interested in hockey as i am currently.... i've got a ton of friends who bleed blue, and i felt for all of them while they helplessly watched some idiot (*ahem…jfj*) completely dismantle any trace of hope they had for a successful team this decade...

since the flames suddenly, and without warning, dealt them a kid who was once considered a cornerstone of the core group, i've been trying my best to watch any/all leaf games televised and a few extras online.... i suppose this is a misnomer, since i don't even really watch the GAME per sé (jeez, that kessel guy's got some skill and luca caputi is currently making burkey look like a visionary), i just wait 'til #3 takes the ice and then examine every move he makes.... maybe it makes me a bad person but what i really want to see (and i admit that this could explain why i see it) are the bad defensive habits that dion picked up along the way... i really want to see confirmation that daz did the right thing; that we gave up on jovanovski not scott stevens....

the first few games in leafs blue made dion a veritable toronto superstar. he came out huge and made some monster hits, got in a fight, scored a goal. the crowd at the ACC, eager to welcome him after an enormous first performance, chanted his name.... but now we're just over a month in and i wonder if the honeymoon period might be over. the bloggers over at PPP seem to be noticing that dion's advertised "bullet shot" is actually generally off target:

"if you had to estimate, how often would you say a phaneuf shot actually hits the net? 5% of the time? 10%?" ---daoust

"1.09%" ---chuck diesel

"i was all worried that i was going to miss poni and his high and wide shots, but with phaneuf it’s like poni never left. thank you dion!" ---daoust

for me, the biggest concerns about dion are his pricetag, his lazy own-zone play, his ill-timed huge hits that take him away from the play, and (quite possibly the biggest detriment) the effect he might have on the development of luke schenn. having not watched a whole lot of leafs hockey earlier in the year, or late last season, i can only imagine that schenn's been struggling in the bigs... but it wouldn't surprise me if his stats have actually degenerated since the arrival of phaneuf, because to my eye: he looks to be taking notes (and all the wrong ones).

anyhow, here are the three boston goals from last night ---all with dion in good position but not engaging the play, except when he unsuccessfully (!!) utilizes the warrener move in clip#2, and blatantly crosschecks/interferes with a bruin crease-side in clip#3.

sure, you can argue that the leafs have a lot of problems defensively and that dion is really just a bystander in all of it. you could insist that the leafs' forwards need to be more responsible, and that the goaltending needs to be more reliable.... but my thesis in this "report" is that dion has NOT improved at all in the last six weeks, and whether or not he improves in the future is moot. lockerrom 'cancer'* aside, daz needed to make changes and i fully support the shipping of dion out of town before the word got out any further that he was a dud on the blueline....

*my buddy's buddy is buddies with matt keetley's sister (true)... ;) apparently when he started with the flames, he thought dion was a pretty good dude but the big contract turned him into a douche and the rumours of lockerroom strife were totally bang-on.

[sutter(s) dismissal countdown: day 7]


Kelly Mamer said...

I haven't missed him a bit, period. I was happy they traded him at the time and haven't changed a bit. His 'one hand on the stick lazy ass be somewhere in the area' shit hasn't changed.

mikeH said...

So, after watching that much leafs do you fell dirty all over? No amount of scrubbing will take that off. As much as I dislike Elisha's boy toy, I don't think I am anywhere near as dedicated to the cause as you are. A few years from now we'll be reading the hockey news about how Dion is coming back from rehab with his new buddy, Danny Bonaduce.

By the way, one minor question... Is the sutter(s) dismissal countdown really a countdown, or is it a countup?

Nuuuuugs said...

"the shipping of dion out of town before the word got out any further that he was a dud on the blueline"

That's the line.

Wor Verification: baliddl, kinda like badiddle.

walkinvisible said...

nuuuugs: the blueline is the line. ;)

mikeH: it is a count-up, you're right. but since that word doesn't exist i'm sticking with countdown. fyi: the giordano trade "count-up" is at 427. i started the clock on the day i sent my jersey to get numbered/lettered.

kelly (maimster ?): precisely.

Kelly Mamer said...

Yeah, maimster here...I've got a Google Account under Kelly and I'm too lazy to create a different one!

walkinvisible said...

yep. that's what i thought i remembered. ;)

Chris Kane said...

So you've been watching the games, but have you seen Dion's efforts in dealing with the Toronto media? It looks like he might be trying to be somewaht un-douche like. I think (or, for Dion's sake, hope) that the trade was a wake-up call that took him off his high-horse and made him realize that he isn't the untouchable second coming of Bobby Orr. If he was in fact a douche and a cancer in Calgary, maybe he is making an effort to change his attitude and become a better person...and hockey player. (Cue rainbows and unicorns.) This potential attitudinal turn-around may have never happened if he had stayed in Calgary. If (allegedly) getting punched out by people like Iggy and Reggie won't change your ways, maybe a trade to a worse team will.

Lawrence said...

I don't wanna stir the pot with my first post on your blog (I've read many-a-thing here with pleasure before)...But in lieu of blog/response etiquette

I would like to ask though: Is this a regular occurrence with you and ex-flames or is it just a Dion behaviorism?

For example: When we traded away Anders Eriksson did you watch his games to ensure he was as bad as we all thought? Or Aucoin's games? How about when we traded away Denis Gauthier way back then, or Jordan Leopold?

Maybe you didn't do it then, and are just starting now? Perhaps you'll watch Aaron Johnson?

I have a hunch that watching Dion allows you to 'find' reasons to feel good about his departure. Maybe when we consistently watch our side of the trade we feel the need to be reminded that the other side may have not stolen the pot?

How's Primeau doing over there anyway? ...oh, you don't watch him AS closely, it's ok, there is no chance we'll ever want him back.

I'm not just trying to be a jerk either, I catch the odd Leafs game as well, only I think I'm certain why I watch Dion...mistakes and all.

walkinvisible said...


this is a pure phaneuf thing and is largely based on the fact that i thought he stunk up the joint with calgary, but was still concerned that he was young enough to be taught how to play.... as far as me "finding" reasons to be glad he's gone, i address this in my post by saying, "maybe it makes me a bad person but what i really want to see (and i admit that this could explain why i see it) are the bad defensive habits that dion picked up along the way..."

so yeah.

Nuuuuugs said...

Dion also picks his nose. Literally. On the blueline.

That's a bad habit.

Word Verification: rabrap

dph said...

Picks his nose? That's a big nose to get a gloved finger up it.

And with regard to watching the outcome of trades.. I will watch the games (when I can) of players that are outside a 2 standard deviations of "we had to get rid of him, about time" or "wtf was Daz thinking, he's awesome" in my mind.

Most trades fall into the "yeah, ok, I can see why that might be a better fit." And so I disregard them.

mikeH said...

I think its pretty clear that we continue to follow Dion primarily from a morbid fascination in the struggles of the Maple Leafs. Somehow it seems that every move they make puts them further away from the glory days pre-1967.

That said, I think you could also argue the Phaneuf trade was the biggest trade in the league this year. Dion is certainly a big ticket, a massive ego, and all-round infamous celebrity. Comparing his profile to Eriksson or Johnson doesn't seem to make much sense.

Personally, I'm going to continue to follow Dion's career to watch for three (possible) events:

1) Additional tapes of drunken singing come to light, this time singing AC/DC in a Toronto karaoke bar;
2) Elisha and Dion get paired tattoos (DP <3's EC) and Dion changes his name to "Dion Cuthbert";
3) The day Toronto fans turn on him, burning him in effigy out front of the ACC.

walkinvisible said...

i think, to answer lawrence's question, my interest in dion is less about dion and more about how long it will take for mikeH's #3 to happen ("The day Toronto fans turn on him, burning him in effigy out front of the ACC.")

although, realistically it'll happen in front of the old maple leaf gardens (now playfully dubbed ---by me--- battle of the blades gardens).

Steal Thunder said...

Apparently he got into a bit of a skirmish with DesLauriers last night in the game against the Oilers...

I wasn't exactly sad to see him go when he got traded, as I had noticed that he had levelled off the last couple of years, but trying to get into a fight with a goalie is just ridiculous...

walkinvisible said...

he was the third man in and totally suckerpunched deslauriers from behind with a fully gloved fist. *surprisingly* deslauriers took exception and came after him wanting to fight, and dion just totally turtled. completey and utter douchery.

....that said, i really like deslauriers now. :P