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The 4th Line Banger
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38 Posts

Posted - 11/07/2010 :  08:24:01  Show Profile  Reply with Quote
It must be November. One thing will happen ever single November for the rest of time and that is as soon as the Leafs see some kind of weak performance over a 2-3 game period of time, the media will finger their scapegoat for the year. Last year it was pretty clearly Vesa Toskala. Obvious choice for obvious reasons. The year before, it was management. You get the point.

This seasons version of the TO scapegoat is Dion Phaneuf. Regardless of how poorly the rest of the team has played as of late, it’s Phaneuf’s fault. Regardless of Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong bringing 3rd line quality to the table, it’s Phaneuf’s fault. Regardless of a total production of the entire Leafs roster not named Clark or Phil being 17 goals in 10 games, it’s still Phaneuf’s fault.

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am far from a Phaneuf fan. Frankly, I don’t and haven’t ever believed the hype on this guy. But I don’t believe Phaneuf deserved the treatment he has received from the TO media and the fans at the ACC.

First off, let's talk about these Phaneuf playoff comments. Typical of what you see from the media, I do not recall hearing the question that was asked of Phaneuf. All we see and hear are his statements. From that perception it is easy to see how Phaneuf had gone on record by bolding stating the Leafs will make the playoffs. However, I highly doubt that is how it happened. It's not like Phaneuf pulled out the Labron James, "I'm taking my talents to South Beach" hour long special on ESPN. He was answering a question to which there is only one answer. The goal of every NHL team is to make the playoffs so they can win the Cup.

More importantly, there is nothing else Phaneuf could have said. Could you imagine the backlash if he was to say something like, "Well, we are going to work hard and do out best to make the playoffs and it will be great if it does happen." Could you imagine the headlines?? He would have been run out of town.

People also confuse the "C" with production on the ice. Being a Captain is leadership. Some leaders did it on the ice a la Stevie Y while others did it in the dressing room a la Mark Messier. The Rangers winning or losing rarely rested on Messier's stick. It rested on his tongue and his ability to motive the Rangers.

If you don't see a huge difference in how the Leafs are playing this year compared to last year I am shocked. Reluctantly, I am begining to be disappointed on the Saturday nights when the Leafs are not on CBC. They are exciting and passionate about hockey again. Even the games they are losing they are in right to the end, they have won a few games they had no business winning, and came back in games they would have rolled over and died in last season. Even though the results have not been very good as of late, the product on the ice is better simply because the Leafs seem to give a crap about what happens. I have watched about 7 of their games this year and I have not watched them quit one time. Compared to last year, it's leaps and bounds.

But I guess the Captain must do that and score goals??? Tell that to Craig Rivet, Adam Foote, or Eric Brewer.

Leadership rarely has anything to do with production. But, unfortunately in the world of hockey and specifically in Toronto, nothing else matter outside of winning. If the team was 8-2-3 today rather than 5-5-3, it wouldn't matter how many (or how few) goals Phaneuf scored.

It's going to be a long and hard season for Phaneuf, and the vast majority of the garbage he will face will be undeserved.

Have an opinion on The Fourth Line Banger's article? Let us know. Just hit reply below and post your thoughts. Anything goes...but keep it clean.
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