On TSN’s Insider Trading on January 16, Bob McKenzie talked briefly about Dion Phaneuf who has been seen around the Leafs offices lately. McKenzie explained that Phaneuf has been shadowing Brendan Shanahan for a few days, and will move on in a few more to a tour of NHL hockey ops in Toronto.
Phaneuf, who has no contract and hasn’t played since he appeared in 67 games for the LA Kings last year, is not officially retired. He’s not being foolish not calling it quits quite yet. Trade deadline season in the NHL is the season for classic defensive defencemen, and he may well get picked up for one last hurrah by some team desperate for depth. That team is unlikely to be the Leafs, given the way LTIR makes a late signing no more attractive than any other player.
But this is an interesting move for Phaneuf, to see if he might want a career in management, and a fairly typical good citizen move by Shanahan and MLSE to lend a hand. They aren’t a burn the bridges organization, and the Leafs under Shanahan and Kyle Dubas have always seemed to recognize that hockey is a small town, and they act accordingly.
That doesn’t always sit well with fans who want ruthless business minds who cull the old guard and only hire in fresh new faces who not only won’t do things “the way we’ve always done them” but don’t even know what that is.
Which is all well and good because good organizations have a diversity of opinions and voices around the table. But that doesn’t mean someone like Phaneuf, who counts a millennial, I should point out, doesn’t have a fresh perspective. He might also simply decide to go back to LA and open a juicer bar on the beach.
I have to admit, seeing his square-jawed, defenceman-from-central-casting self in the Leafs box with the trio of business and law types that run the team would be fun. And it would irritate the hell out of a lot of people. Give him a job, Shanny, make people mad.