Dion Phaneuf, who played with the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2010 through 2016, announced his retirement from the NHL Tuesday.
A smiling Phaneuf greeted the press Tuesday. “It’s a special day for me and my family to formally announce my retirement,” Phaneuf said. “I’ve obviously been retired for a couple of years but with Covid and travel restrictions and whatnot, I wanted to – after speaking with Brendan (Shanahan) about it, he wanted to do something for me when I made it official. We couldn’t really do that with an empty building and with travel restrictions and league protocols.”
Phaneuf will be honoured at Tuesday’s Maple Leafs game against the Nashville Predators.
Born in Edmonton, Alberta, Dion Phaneuf was drafted ninth overall in the 2003 NHL Draft by the Calgary Flames. He played for the Flames, Toronto Maple Leafs, Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings. The six-foot-four defenceman recorded 137 goals with 357 assists for a total of 494 regular-season points (137 G, 357 A). Phaneuf also tallied 21 points in 55 playoff games. He last played for the Los Angeles Kings in 2018-2019 season.
“I am proud to be able to come back to Toronto,” said Phaneuf. “The fans here have always been incredible to me.”
“I was very proud to be the captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.”
He was a punishing hitter. That was his calling card throughout his career, but it announced his presence in the league. He was runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenceman in the 2007-2008 season.
Phaneuf was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs as part of a seven-player deal on January 31, 2010. On June 14, 2010, he was named the 18th captain of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
He was traded to the Ottawa Senators on February 9, 2016 as part of a nine-player swap.
With the Maple Leafs, Phaneuf accumulated 196 points (45 G, 151 A) and 1,113 hits in 423 games. Toronto was outscored 302-280 with Phaneuf on the ice during 5-on-5 play over that period. That was indicative of the team, though. The Maple Leafs made the playoffs only once during Phaneuf’s tenure, in the lockout-shortened 2012-2013 season.
“I see Morgan Rielly’s interactions with (Phaneuf) who, obviously was a young player when Morgan came in and Dion was here,” said Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe. “You see that interaction now, years later and the level of respect that Morgan has for him and appreciation for him. Those are things that stand out and say that you’ve left a strong impression behind.”
Phaneuf was very complimentary to Rielly when speaking to the media Tuesday. “Morgan, the way that he has grown into his leadership role here, I’m really proud of him,” Phaneuf said. “I think he carries himself extremely well. It’s great that he got an extension here. It’s very well deserved. He is a very good defenceman, a great player, and a really good leader.”
DION PHANEUF STATEMENT
Phaneuf released a statement announcing his retirement:
“As I look back, it’s hard to encapsulate and thank the great number of people who supported and guided me both as a player and a person throughout my career. I was very fortunate to play in the NHL for a long time and I’m thankful first and foremost to my Mom, Dad and brother for their untiring support on and off the ice. My heartfelt love and appreciation also goes to my wife, Elisha, and our daughter.
“I also owe a tremendous debt of gratitude to the many coaches, staff and teammates I had the privilege to work alongside through the years. At a very young age, Brent Sutter provided me the guidance in Red Deer to develop good habits in becoming a good pro; my first NHL GM and coach, Darryl Sutter, gave me my start in Calgary and showed me what it takes to be a top player in the NHL; I’m indebted to Brian Burke for bringing me to Toronto and making me captain for one of the most historic franchises in league history; my billets, Dan and Christine Doyle, and so many teammates from the Maple Leafs, Flames, Senators and Kings who will remain friends well past our playing days.
“A great thanks to the entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization, their ownership and leadership, Larry Tanenbaum and Brendan Shanahan, for providing me with this opportunity to retire with such love and support here in Toronto. It was a special honour to represent the Maple Leafs as team captain, a point of pride and honour that I will carry with me forever.
“And finally, to the fans a very special thank you for all the support over the years. Your passion drives us all.”