Monday, August 9, 2010

Eastern Conference Eye Candy: Dion Phaneuf (Toronto Maple Leafs)

Phaneuf had a big 2010 with being traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs at the end of January, named as an alternate captain nine games after his debut with the Leafs; then, most recently, named as the team's captain back in June.  If his start with the Leafs is any indication as to how well he'll do with the organization then I'd say he's well on his way to a pretty successful career in the blue and white!

But we can't just talk about Phaneuf in the present without discussing where he came from and how he got where he is today.  Prior to his NHL career, Dion played four years in juniors for the Red Deer Rebels (WHL) during which time he was named as "Defenceman of the Year" as well as an Eastern Conference All-Star by the WHL, and a First Team All-Star by the Canadian Hockey League (CHL) - all honors he earend twice throughout his juniors career. His final year in the WHL was during the NHL lockout prior to which there was talk of him making the Flames NHL roster.

He was originally drafted as the Calgary Flames' first pick in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft (9th overall).  He is part of quite an interesting draft class that year being among Marc-Andre Fleury (1), Eric Staal (2), Thomas Vanek (5), Ryan Suter (7), Andrei Kastitsyn (10) to name a few (a pretty elite bunch of characters, I'd say).  He made his debut in the NHL as a Flame on October 5, 2005 and "the rest is history." He was named NHL's rookie of the month and by January of that season his name was among Sidney Crosby's and Alexander Ovechkin's as a candidate for the Calder Trophy (NHL's top rookie).

He's a multifaceted player; a great offensive defenseman which is illustrated by his stats: he leads all NHL defensemen in goals (76), power-play goals (48), game-winning goals (21) and shots (1,233) since entering the league in 2005-06.  Currently leads all Maple Leafs in hits (191) and is second in average ice-time per game (24:12).  He played in his 400th career NHL game in April of last season. 

Dion is a pretty BIG BOY at 6'3 and 214 pounds who packs a pretty big punch on the ice (as well as off).  He's the first son of Paul and Amber Phaneuf and has a younger brother, Dane, who is currently making a name for himself in the WHL.

As with most parents of hockey players, Mr. and Mrs. Phaneuf played major roles in Dion's sturdy foundation in hockey.  His dad (who works in construction) "built a rink every winter, complete with home-made (but regulation-sized) nets, boards, overhead lights. He even painted lines, blue and red." And it was his mother whom taught him how to skate with an pretty impressive background having competed in Canada's Winter Games representing Prince Edward Island in 1975.  By the time she was done, he could skate rings around the older kids when she went to enroll him in power skating classes.

As with a majority of the big, bad, hard-hitters on the ice ... Phaneuf hides a teddy bear persona inside.
"If you know Dion, he has a soft, sensitive side, too," she [his mother, Amber] says. He's very family oriented. Not a night goes by that he doesn't phone us or his brother. He's very good to his little brother."
"Oh, very kind, very caring," says Amber. "A funny side, always a prankster. Never a dull moment. But a sensitive person. A lot of people might not know that side of him."
One other person who may just know that side of him would be his girlfriend, Elisha Cuthbert (yeah, THAT Elisha Cuthbert - the one that classy Sean Avery speaks of as his "sloppy seconds" when she began dating Phaneuf).

Phaneuf is quite active in his community and while in Calgary, he gave alot of his time to the Alberta Children's Hospital.  He had been the hospital's official ambassador and donated Flames tickets to help families at the facility.  ) for which he was honored by the Flames in 2008 with the Ralph T. Scurfield Humanitarian Award.

He's also a spokesperson for [endorses] Nike (Nike Trainer shoe), Affliction, and Redbull.  Most of the images of him on these endorsement sites are quite HOT (so be sure to check them out!)!! ; )

1 comment:

Cat said...

Ok while I think he seems like he'd be a cool guy to hang out with off the ice, I'm not sure he'll ever fall into my "eye candy" bucket. Still, it's fun to read about different players that I don't know that much about. Thanks!