The Toronto Maple Leafs are on a six game losing streak, and team captain Dion Phaneuf has totally lost his composure. The play of Phaneuf has been in question for years in Toronto, and the questions are becoming more and more prevalent. Not only is the respect of a captain in Toronto coming into question. The respect of Dion Phaneuf throughout the league has now been brought to the limelight.
Just two nights ago, Phaneuf dropped the gloves with Carolina Hurricanes captain Eric Staal. This was in retaliation to a hit that Phaneuf laid on Jordan Staal. The hit seemed to look legal, but Phaneuf was forced to answer the call with brother Eric Staal. Phaneuf, who normally does not drop the gloves went toe-to-toe with Staal. Either out of frustration, or to light a fire under his teammates because of the team’s poor play, Phaneuf tried to spark his team.
Phaneuf pushed the limits in the Carolina game, and was viewed chirping with Carolina opponents frequently. The culmination of the earlier events happened with just seconds remaining in the game. Carolina’s Eric Staal got the puck in slot with the goalie pulled. With only Phaneuf between him and the net, Staal choose to blast a slap shot at Phaneuf. He followed the shot with a glare targeted at the Leafs captain as he turned to celebrate the goal. The actions of Staal reflect the respect he has for Phaneuf. What surprised many onlookers is the fact that Phaneuf did not respond to this at. Either did any of his Leaf teammates. This bringing question to how Leaf players feel about their captain.
If part one versus Carolina was not enough, on Wednesday night in Ottawa things went very haywire for the Maple Leafs. Midway through the first period Dion Phaneuf went into the corner with Ottawa Senators forward Milan Michalek. After a check to the shoulder, Phaneuf slew footed Michalek to the ice. While Michalek was down Phaneuf went off on him punching him in the head, and even looked as though he kicked him. Michalek did fire back with a spear, and a few punches in defense. The result may be a suspension for Phaneuf for the slew-foot, and Michalek may have to answer for the spear. The league will definitely view the actions of both players.
In an apparent attempt to spark his team or a complete venting of his recent frustrations. Phaneuf took on a very odd combatant in Michalek. The frustration is very visible in Phaneuf, and his play has been very lack luster. Was this act of frustration as smart move, and one that will benefit his team? Or, a reaction to the disrespect shown? Or, a valiant effort to gain respect from his teammates and league?
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