Maple Leafs at Calgary Flames: BOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

Dion Phaneuf is taking his job as face of the franchise a little too seriously.

On January 31st Brian Burke made the second trade that will define his tenure as the General Manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He sent Matt "Healthy Scratch" Stajan, Jamal Mayers, Ian "Moustachulent" White, and Niklas "Hot Wife" Hagman to Calgary in return for prospect Keith Aulie, Fredrik Sjostrom, and Dion Phaneuf. Tonight, Dion Phaneuf is going to get booed to high heaven for the crime of caring too much and having too many established leaders on his team. Luckily, he stepped into a massive leadership vacuum in Toronto.

The Leafs will once again be playing in front of a Leafs-friendly crowd. It'll be vital to get out in front early to keep the crowd engaged. It would be a hell of a night for the Edmonton-born Phaneuf to pick up his second goal of the year. You can read another preview by SkinnyFish over at LeafsNation here.

Starting Goalies:

GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Jean-Sebastien Giguere 17 988 8 6 44 2.67 430 386 .898 0
GP MIN W L EGA GA GAA SA SV SV% SO
2010 - Miikka Kiprusoff 26 1561 11 14 71 2.73 782 711 .909 3

Giguere's coming off of two fine performances against Montreal and Edmonton in which he only allowed two goals which allowed our pop-gun offence to win. Kiprusoff, as has been the case every year, is getting buried with work and doing an acceptable job. Not enough to help the team overcome their structural limitations but they might be New Jersey or New York Islanders bad if not for him.

But the real story, nay, the only story tonight, is the return of Dion Phaneuf. So in case you've missed out, here's some pre-game reading:

Phaneuf never asked for the deal. But he took his wicked shot, his appetite for dishing out heavy hits, his somewhat erratic approach to defending, to Toronto, where his act has been met with mixed reviews.

What kind of reaction can the 25-year-old expect Thursday?

Cheers? Jeers? A mixture?

- Scott Cruickshank, Calgary Herald

Boos. The answer is that he is going to hear boos every time he touches the puck. Only an idiot would suggest otherwise. But should he get boos?

Should Calgary Flames fans boo Dion Phaneuf? That's the question they're asking themselves and each other in anticipation of the Toronto Maple Leafs' visit this evening. Because it's not just a question of Phaneuf's legacy with the franchise but of the franchise's decision to jettison him.

Which is to say that on the occasion of his hockey homecoming, it's as much about the Dion Phaneuf Trade as it is about Dion Phaneuf.

- Greg Wyshynski, Puck Daddy

If anyone should be booed at this point it should be Darryl Sutter. Through the trade and the subsequent contracts to Ian White and Matt Stajan he torpedoed the notion that he's peddling now that the deal was meant to create cap space in order to (over)pay Mark Giordano and Rene Bourque. At least the latter is one of the Flames players. And then, he tossed in the franchise's best defensive prospect:

Aulie was the only prospect that switched teams, and could be a prized pickup long-term.

The 21-year-old defenceman filled in on a banged-up Leafs blueline this season and has shown he’s already nearly ready for full-time work in the league.

He’s nothing flashy, but the 6-foot-5, 217-pounder hasn’t been prone to make many mistakes.

His addition only further tips the scale in favour of the Leafs when you look at the deal.

Instead of the Flames receiving a young, promising prospect — be it on the blueline or in the forward ranks — GM Darryl Sutter coughed one up in Aulie, on top of his blue-chip banger Phaneuf.

- Steve MacFarlane, Calgary Sun

It is sad and pathetic that Sun Media has to make every sentence it's own paragraph but that speaks to their target audience. The fact that Calgary threw in the prospect makes me laugh. Darryl Sutter, you can be our trade partner anytime.

There was certainly no disrespect intended in Versteeg’s gag. Anything but. It was nothing more than an icebreaker to relax the Leafs’ mood and probably intended as a gentle leg-pull at the media horde assembled solely to talk to the ex-Flame about his return to Calgary.

- George Johnson, Calgary Herald

The media horde then went to Darryl Sutter's office to transcribe his official statement:

"I don’t regret the deal at all," said Sutter.

"It’s good for both teams."

- Eric Francis, Calgary Sun

This was the brilliant conclusion where Francis helped get the managment story out without being too overt about it.

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