Pha­neuf ’s home­com­ing tour

The Expositor (Brantford) - - SPORTS - BRUCE GARRIOCH

The next 48 hours will be a home­com­ing for Dion Pha­neuf.

One of the few play­ers to suit up for both the Sen­a­tors and Maple Leafs, the Los An­ge­les Kings vet­eran de­fence­man will make his first stop at the Cana­dian Tire Cen­tre Satur­day af­ter­noon since be­ing dealt by Ot­tawa last Fe­bru­ary, 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 said af­ter an off-ice work­out Fri­day 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 the way the city wel­comed me 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 Feb. 9, 2016 be­cause the or­ga­ni­za­tion wanted to take the next step. It was shock­ing to see a former cap­tain of the Leafs get dealt to a archri­val, but both teams were go­ing in dif­fer­ent di­rec­tions at the time.

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

When the Sen­a­tors de­cided to deal Pha­neuf last spring, it was a sig­nal a full re­build was un­der way. The big changes by gen­eral man­ager Pierre Do­rion started be­fore the dead­line in Fe­bru­ary and Pha­neuf was moved to the Kings in the mid­dle of a game in Pitts­burgh on Feb. 13th.

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 longterm 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 the Ot­tawa por­tion of his ca­reer was over.

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

“We (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, how­ever, 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 re­sul­to­ri­ented busi­ness. There’s a lot of dif­fer­ent pieces over there now and that’s just part of the busi­ness,” said Pha­neuf.

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 one the guys wel­comed me into the room and it was pretty seam­less.”


Dion Pha­neuf ges­tures to fans dur­ing prac­tice on an out­door rink in Ot­tawa on Dec. 15, 2017. On Satur­day, Pha­neuf makes his re­turn to Ot­tawa for the first time af­ter the trade in Fe­bru­ary which sent him to the L.A. Kings.

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