Monday, June 14, 2010

Phaneuf to be named Captain today.

He will be the 18th in the club's history which started with Bert Corbeau in 1927.

While Phaneuf being granted the "C" will come as news only to those just blinkingly emerging a coma, it's still an occasion for the franchise.

When Phaneuf was traded to Toronto his outgoing media scrum in Calgary didn't exactly warm the hearts of Leaf fans. He seemed shocked, visibly upset and not at all excited to be coming to one of the worst teams in the NHL. I remember seeing him speak in Calgary somewhere in the bowels of the Saddledome and wondering to myself if this guy even wanted to report to his new team.

By the time he arrived in Toronto his tune had changed. The remorse and shock he has expressed only hours earlier was replaced by optimism and excitement. While never jovial in front of those bearing press passes, there was a certain tone in his voice that suggested his mourning period lasted the 4 or so hour flight. He was ready to be a Leaf.

What happened in the next 24 hours, in my mind, put Dion as the frontrunner for the captaincy. You all read the story about how Dion walked into the dressing room and asked who was in charge of music. It was a matter of minutes before that role was his. Then, in his first game Phaneuf made perhaps his boldest statement, stepping onto the ice and laying two large hits before handily winning his first fight as a Maple Leaf on the same night. Throw in a few booming shots and his voice heard above all others on the bench and that this day has arrived should not be surprising.

The biggest question after this announcement is made will of course be this: Can Dion lead this team to a Stanley Cup? Here are the players who have captained this team since 1967 in no particular order: Wendel Clarke, Darryl Sittler, Mats Sundin, Doug Gilmour, Dave Keon, Rob Ramage and Rick Vaive.

Leafs fans hope so. Sens fans hope not.

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