PHA­NEUF TAKES ROAD TRIP DOWN NOS­TAL­GIA LANE

For­mer Sen­a­tors de­fence­man ex­cited for dou­ble Cana­dian home­com­ing with Kings

Ottawa Citizen - - SPORTS - BRUCE GAR­RIOCH bgar­rioch@post­media.com Twit­ter: @sun­gar­rioch

The next few days will be a home­com­ing for Dion Pha­neuf.

One of the few play­ers to suit up for both the Ot­tawa Sen­a­tors and Toronto Maple Leafs, the vet­eran Los An­ge­les Kings de­fence­man will make his first stop at Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre since be­ing dealt by Ot­tawa last Fe­bru­ary on Satur­day af­ter­noon, and then Mon­day he’ll face Toronto at Sco­tia­bank Arena.

There will be no short­age of nos­tal­gia for the 33-year-old Pha­neuf.

“I was very lucky to play in three Cana­dian mar­kets, and two of them are on this trip, so it’s nice to get back and it’s nice to see some fa­mil­iar faces,” Pha­neuf, who also played for the Cal­gary Flames, said af­ter an off-ice work­out Fri­day at Minto Field on the Uni­ver­sity of Ot­tawa cam­pus.

“I have noth­ing but great things to say about both cities. Ot­tawa is spe­cial to me for a lot of rea­sons. First and fore­most, my daugh­ter (Zaphire) was born here and I re­ally en­joyed my time here. I look at the suc­cess and the run that we had (in 2017), and the­waythecity­wel­comedme when I got here from a pretty big ri­val in Toronto.

“I’ve got re­ally good mem­o­ries here. I wish this or­ga­ni­za­tion, as I do Toronto, noth­ing but suc­cess. Be­ing in Ot­tawa, I was treated very well here, the fans were in­cred­i­ble and I en­joyed liv­ing in the city.”

The Sen­a­tors ac­quired Pha­neuf in a block­buster deal with the Leafs on Feb. 9, 2016. It was shock­ing to see a for­mer cap­tain of the Leafs get dealt to an archri­val, but the teams were go­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions.

A for­mer Cal­gary Flames cap­tain as well, Pha­neuf played a key role for Ot­tawa, on and off the ice, in a lead­er­ship role. He helped the Sen­a­tors get to the East­ern Con­fer­ence fi­nal in 2017, where they dropped a 4-3 dou­ble-over­time de­ci­sion to the Pitts­burgh Pen­guins in Game 7.

When the Sen­a­tors de­cided to deal Pha­neuf, it was a sig­nal that a full re­build was un­der­way. The bigchanges­by­gen­eral­man­ager Pierre Do­rion started be­fore the 2017-18 trade dead­line in Fe­bru­ary and Pha­neuf was moved to the Kings in the mid­dle of a game in Pitts­burgh on Feb. 13.

He was sent to L.A. that night with winger Nate Thomp­son in a deal that brought Mar­ian Ga­borik and Nick Shore to Ot­tawa. Ga­borik is ex­pected to be placed on long-term in­jury re­serve af­ter off-sea­son back surgery, and Shore was traded to Cal­gary a cou­ple of weeks later.

“It wasn’t that big of a sur­prise, if you want me to be hon­est,” Pha­neuf said. “I had an idea what was go­ing on and Pierre was re­ally good with me through­out the whole thing. That’s why I wish Ot­tawa noth­ing but suc­cess and Pierre and the whole or­ga­ni­za­tion.

“They treated me very well, so I wasn’t shocked.”

It’s rare for a player to get dealt mid-game, but Pha­neuf has been around long enough to know when coach Guy Boucher didn’t put him on the ice mid­way through the sec­ond pe­riod that the Ot­tawa por­tion of his ca­reer was over.

“When I got sat down I kind of had a feel­ing be­cause I didn’t think I was play­ing that bad,” Pha­neuf said with a smile. “No, I knewon­thebench,andI­didn’t know where (I was headed) at that point. I only found that out when I went into the room and there was some tech­ni­cal stuff that had to hap­pen.

“(The Kings) were play­ing at the time so they were wait­ing to make sure that ev­ery­body got out of that game healthy that was in­volved in the trade. It was an ex­pe­ri­ence. I’ve never gone through that be­fore, but I knew I had been traded when I didn’t play an­other shift.”

He isn’t sur­prised with the changes in Ot­tawa, but he wasn’t go­ing to go near the whole Erik Karls­son/Mike Hoff­man saga when asked about it.

“Year to year, there’s ups and there’s downs. We didn’t play well enough last year and that’s why there’s changes made. It’s a re­sult-ori­ented busi­ness. There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent pieces over there now and that’s just part of the busi­ness,” Pha­neuf said.

The change has been easy for Pha­neuf. He and his wife, ac­tress Elisha Cuth­bert, al­ready had a home in Los An­ge­les so the move was per­fect.

“I re­ally like the ad­just­ment. The guys wel­comed me, and my fam­ily is there, so I was very for­tu­nate it worked out that way,” Pha­neuf said. “I re­ally like our team. We fell short last year, but right from Day 1 the guys wel­comed me into the room and it was pretty seam­less.”

JEFF ROBER­SON/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILES

For­mer Sen­a­tors de­fence­man Dion Pha­neuf played parts of three sea­sons in Ot­tawa be­fore be­ing traded in Fe­bru­ary to Los An­ge­les and is back in town with the Kings Satur­day.

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