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Saturday, November 13, 2010

Dion Phaneuf - Most Leadership Shown by a Leaf Captain

Dion Phaneuf Convinced Clarke MacArthur
to Sign with Toronto Maple Leafs
Dion Phaneuf has shown the most leadership we have seen from any Leaf captain.

Yes, we remember Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Wendel Clark, Rick Vaive, Darryl Sittler, Dave Keon, and George Armstrong.  All of them great captains.  There were others before George Armstrong.  But, that was before our time.

Wendel Clark showed exceptional leadership in standing up for his team and teammates.  One of the best team captains in NHL history.  Doug Gilmour and Darryl Sittler led by example on the ice.  They never backed down from a challenge.  There was quiet leadership from George Armstrong, Dave Keon, Rick Vaive, and Mats Sundin.  They garnered respect from their teammates.

Dion Phaneuf instantly clicked with Phil Kessel, our franchise player, when arriving to Toronto.  He showed an immediate physical presence by laying out New Jersey's Zach Parise and fighting Colin White in the first period of his first game as a Leaf.  He has taken highly touted rookie Nazem Kadri under his wing by having Nazem as a guest at his summer cottage in PEI (Prince Edward Island).  Each a good sign of leadership.

However, Dion's ultimate demonstration of leadership was persuading Clarke MacArthur to sign with Toronto Maple Leafs.  Clarke MacArthur, Dion Phaneuf's Team Canada teammate at 2005 World Juniors, "followed" Dion Phaneuf to Toronto.  

No one has seen this type of leadership from a Toronto Maple Leafs captain.

Key players (Carl Brewer, Jim Pappin, and Brian Conacher) jumped ship from Toronto while George Armstrong was captain.  Dave Keon "followed" other teammates (eight of them) to the WHA.  At best, Mats Sundin held ranks with Tomas Kaberle, Bryan McCabe, Darcy Tucker, and Pavel Kubina, the infamous Muskoka five,  in a co-ordinated effort  to refuse to waive their no-trade clauses.

But, never, have I seen players follow a Toronto Maple Leafs captain to Toronto.  Some may argue Dion's leadership attributes are just intangibles irrelevant if his presence does not change Toronto's losing ways.

But, Toronto's record is dramatically better when Dion plays.  Toronto's record is 18-15-4 for 40 points in 37 games with Dion Phaneuf playing.  This works out to 88 points when pro-rated to 82 games.

In 2008-2009, Toronto was 17-28-11 for 45 points in the 56 games played before acquiring Dion Phaneuf.  This season, Toronto is 0-2-2 for 2 points for the games without Phaneuf.  In total, Toronto's record for the games played without Dion Phaneuf in the past two seasons is 17-30-13 for 47 points in 60 games.  You can pro-rate this to 64 points for an 82 game season. 

Dion Phaneuf's impact on the team is about 24 additional points over an entire season.  This works out to 12 more wins.

Some in the media believe the absence of Vesa Toskala is the main reason for Toronto's improved record.  Break down the games without Dion Phaneuf into games with Toskala and without and you will find 7-12-3 record for 17 points in 22 games with Toskala and 10-18-10 record for 30 points in 38 games without Toskala (and Phaneuf).  You will see both records pro-rate to a 64 point season.  When Dion Phaneuf was out of the line-up, Toronto was just as woeful without Toskala as it was with him.

The contractual decisions Shea Weber and Jeff Carter make this season may further hint at Dion's ability to draw other players.  Both of them were Dion's teammates on Team Canada's World Junior team as well.  They are due to be RFAs (Restricted Free Agents) eligible for arbitration at the end of this season.  If they choose arbitration, they will receive a one-year contract where they become UFAs (Unrestricted Free Agents) at its end.

Can Dion draw either one of them to Toronto if they believe they received a below market offer? Add in Weber growing tired of being on a team with lesser financial means to win and Carter weary of not getting the role he believes he deserves. If the answer is yes, it is a nice change from the past.

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Update 14th of November, 2010

Jeff Carter signed an 11-year contract $58 mil contract within hours of this blog post.  Scratch his name off the list.  However, Atlanta Thrasher Andrew Ladd and Chicago Black Hawks Brent Seabrook were also Team Canada 2005 World Junior teammates of Dion Phaneuf.  Nashville Predators will talk with Shea Weber's agent when Nashville plays Toronto this week.


  1. Maybe he could befriend Semin? Just a thought...

  2. Will have to rename the blog to Leafs Laugher if you keep posting these type of comments.

    I hope you do a blog post on Semin at You always provide interesting posts.