Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf wants to be part of Mike Babcock’s blueprint

Dion Phaneuf’s future with the Toronto Maple Leafs remains up in the air, even with the addition of newly hired head coach Mike Babcock.

But the Leafs captain made it clear on Thursday that he’d like to stay in Toronto and play for the Stanley Cup and Olympic gold medal winning coach next season.

Phaneuf told Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman that he’s “in” with Babcock in charge and is ready for a long and painful rebuild. 

More past the jump…

From Sportsnet.ca:

“I’m excited. And the guys are excited, too. It’s big for our fans and our organization,” said Phaneuf, adding he’d spoken to a few of them. “There was a lot of interest in where he was going to go, and rightfully so. You want to play for a coach of his calibre. You can see how prepared he is, how he makes a plan. He’s won at every level and I’m looking forward to working for him.”

The question is, does Babcock want Phaneuf?

Judging by his comments during Thursday’s news conference, it seems as if Babcock wants to at least give Phaneuf a chance. The 30-year-old blue-liner is coming off an average season offensively, where he scored three goals and 26 assists in 70 games. 

But it’s been Phaneuf’s defensive play and lack of leadership that has Leafs president Brendan Shanahan wondering if he’s the right guy to lead this team.

Babcock, however, may want the chance to resurrect Phaneuf’s career.

“I’m a fan of Dion,” Babcock told media on Thursday. “I think he works hard and he tries hard. I think…you have to help your leaders. I think that’s what your job is (as coach), is to help them do things right.”

  • Gary Empey

    I’m hoping Babcock can work some magic that will allow Phaneuf to simplify his game a little. Let him do what he does well and not ask him to be everything for the Leafs.

  • Gary Empey

    Toronto was a good team for awhile last season. They looked like a playoff team, then they quit on the coach and themselves.

    I do see it a a rebuild to be competitive as a potential Stanley Cup finalist. But last season they looked really good for awhile, that said I would not be surprised if they were fighting for a playoff spot next season.

    The doom and gloom talk will work in favour of Babcock.

    • Gary Empey

      I’m sure there were lots of fans that thought they were going to make the playoffs last year before Jan.

      They are not built to get to the cup but for playoffs in the East why not.

  • Gary Empey

    I say no. Sorry dion but you had more than enough chances and you blew it. Toronto is done with you. And wouldn’t it make sense to move him to Detroit and bring some young faces to Toronto that Babcock is already farmiliar with?

    If we’re really doing this rebuild right. Phaneuf should be gone. Along with others as well (bozak, lupul, ect.) It’s time to turn the page.

    • Jeremy Ian

      I too am of the mind that we need to move on. I also think Dion was overused by a coach with a bad defensive concept, which revealed his weaknesses and some questionable judgment (the sham over salute-gate made things worse when he needed to exercise leadership). But the last few years, and last year above all, was too damaging. Much as I like Dion, and he got blamed for too much, parting ways is the most sensible track. Babcock and Dion are saying the things they should be saying. But I’d be surprised if Dion is a Leaf in the fall.

  • STAN

    Where’s all the fans input on this site? Clearly no one cares, even after making a big splash by hiring Babcock. 6 posts all morning in a city of over 4 million. Speaks volumes on what the people think of the Leafs. the proof is in the pudding. Sad

      • Jeremy Ian

        At what point was i gloating? Just noticed the minuscule amount of comments on this site…But i’ll take your word that they are all out partying. Grats on the new coach. One big step forward…Peace.

  • jasken

    I just wonder if the players will be saying I am all in on Babs coaching when they are on the ice crawling trying to get their breath. Thing is Babs has a certain expectation work hard play hard and bring your best every game. These players have been acting like its a country club for years and now they are going to have to be in their best condition of their careers they better start hitting the ice, weights, and bikes their going to need it.

  • STAN

    Dion Phaneuf has been the worst addition to this franchise since Owen Nolan.

    Let’s hope some NHL GM is delusional enough to believe today’s Phaneuf can recapture the modicum of talent he had five seasons ago.

  • silentbob

    Toronto was never a “good team” last year. Regardless of where we stood in the standings when Carlyle was fired we were an eighth place team at best, ready to make an early first round exit. The pain that Babcock and Shanahan keep referring to is about moving out most/all of Phaneuf, Kessel, Lupul, JVR, Bozak, Gardiner, Kadri and others for picks and A prospects. The fans and media will scream at the pain when these favorite and polarizing players fetch less than what many leaf fans will expect in return value.
    The Toronto Maple Leafs need to eliminate this losing culture.

    I say TRADE, TRADE, TRADE!!!

    Moving these contracts and opening cap space will allow management to take advantage of teams with minimum cap space and players to sign/re-sign. Boston, Chicago, LA, Philly, Vancouver, Tampa Bay, Pitsburg, New Youk and Minesota will be hard pressed to re-sign all their RFA’s/UFA’s without moving some unattractive contracts.
    When a team decides a trade is preferablel to a buy out, the Leafs will be in a position to take advantage of all opportunities.

    As far as $$$’s the Leafs are in a league of their own and it is time they use their financial might to their advantage.
    I doubt you will see any picks of the Leafs make the jump to the NHL in draft year in less we land z

  • STAN

    Guys, it has been spelled out. The Leafs are going to trade everything they can for draft picks and young players.

    1. Babcock “… we need to get Hunter some draft picks”

    2. Shanahan hires almost everyone in junior hockey who knows anything.

    This is a tear down and reconstruction from the ground up.

    If they can get fair value for anyone on the roster over 26 they will absolutely trade them.

  • Gary Empey

    Even when at the start of the season when they were winning they were being outshot bigtime. Opposing teams soon learned that Leafs could not deal with the forecheck.

    Think back to the game 7 collapse.

    Dion Phaneuf has been our best defenceman since he has been here. Why do you think every coach has given him such high minutes.
    He looks down at the bench and says I have to put Dion back out there.
    No player can do it all. Rielly looks now ready to join him. Still we need more guys who can quickly move the puck past the blueline.

    It is time to quit blaming our best players for the leafs failure to win.

    Put the blame where it belongs on the past mistakes management has made putting the team together.

    After Shanahan got through looking at the big picture he let go all the scouting staff.