FN’s All-Time Greatest Flames Team: Dion Phaneuf

This will probably be the most controversial inclusion in our All-Time Flames Team. We debated. We went back and forth. We drafted a team. We mulled it over. We argued a bit.

But ultimately, we needed seven defenders to make a 23-man roster. And when you come down to it, Dion Phaneuf was a pretty damn fine hockey player when he was with the Calgary Flames.

So he’s on our team. Here’s why.

CAREER STATISTICS

Dion Phaneuf was the first draft selection made by newly-minted general manager Darryl Sutter back in 2003. Phaneuf was tailor-made for Darryl: big, mean, sturdy and from the West. Heck, Darryl’s brother Brent – a future Flames coach – coached Dion in junior. His first season in Calgary, he scored 20 goals. In each of Dion’s five seasons in Calgary, he hit double-digits in goals. He put up between 40 and 60 points each year like clockwork and was on pace for just shy of 40 points when the Flames traded him away.

Was Phaneuf perfect? Nope.

But for several seasons, he was a damn fine defender. And if your team has guys like Al MacInnis, Gary Suter and Paul Reinhart on it, you’ll need a guy that can lean on the opposition a bit and create room.

GREATEST MOMENT(S)

I can’t find a video, but Phaneuf’s response to the “Where do you go from here?” question when he was traded was priceless: “Toronto.”

FLAMES MILESTONES

  • 33rd in All-Time Flames Points (228)
  • 7th in All-Time Scoring Among Defensemen (Mark Giordano passed him last season)
  • Finished top 10 in Norris Trophy voting in each of his first three seasons in Calgary.

LEGACY

The trading of Dion Phaneuf may be the nadir of Darryl Sutter’s run as general manager. Cashing out your most valuable defenseman in the middle of the season without much fanfare is a panic move. And the trade? It was a panic move. It garnered the Flames a bunch of spare parts and Matt Stajan.

Years later? The Flames still have Matt Stajan, and Stajan is now what he was then: a valuable role player, but not the type of guy you should be looking back upon as the centerpiece of a trade. (Aside: I’m pleased that Stajan’s turned it around, as I was worried he’d become this generation’s Gary Leeman.)

The circumstances of Phaneuf’s departure and the disappointing nature of his tenure in Toronto shouldn’t diminish what he was: a very solid young player for the Calgary Flames when he was wearing the Flaming C.

  • Tomas Oppolzer

    A lot of people with disagree with this pick. Those people are wrong. In his time with Calgary, Phaneuf was one hell of a hockey player. He was a member of the all-rookie team in ’06, was a multiple invitee to the all-star game, was a finalist for the Calder trophy along with Crosby and winner Ovechkin, and was nominated for the Norris along with Chara and Lidstrom (I believe). Say what you want about his tenure in Toronto, but when push comes to shove, Phaneuf was one of the most promising young defensemen in the NHL

  • The GREAT Walter White

    I can’t necessarily argue that Dion shouldn’t be on the team, but Engelland still has a ways to go before overtaking Phaneuf on the “All-Time Flames D-Man I’ve Yelled At The TV About The Most” list

  • beloch

    Phaneuf is a deeply flawed player. As a Flame, his penchant for lining up massive open-ice hits frequently left him out of position. He’s played on Toronto’s top shut-down pair ever since being traded. However, the fact that the Leafs haven’t found anyone better for the job is a big reason why they’ve sucked for so long.

    If the Flames hadn’t traded Phaneuf, I honestly wouldn’t mind seeing him on the second or third pairs. He’d be a strong #4D for this club. He’d make a bigger difference next season than Stajan likely will on the fourth line.

    An all-time great though? Phaneuf is certainly one of the most offensively productive Flames defenders of all time, but is that what should really matter most? Personally, I’d finish the second pair with a guy who actually hoisted the cup as a Flame: Brad McCrimmon.

  • BurningSensation

    What I find somewhat dismaying is that you (and Beloch) are describing Wideman. A younger, edgier slightly higher scoring Wideman. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, or him but on an all-time Flames team?

    There’s a place for that kind of player. I’m just not sure it is on a team’s all-time team.

    Dion Phaneuf, making Robert Reichel less controversial since just now.

  • Captain Ron

    You know for all the thrills and spills this guy gave us he doesn’t make my list either. Too many defensive lapses and frankly I don’t think his hockey IQ is that great. Even if he became available to us at a bargain price I still don’t think I want him back here in any capacity. Brad McCrimmon is ahead of him on my list too.

  • BurningSensation

    Am I the only one who thinks if you factor in cap-hit and locker room cancerishness that maybe we won the Phaneuf trade?

    Stajan is still a useful player.

  • Captain Ron

    Nope. All ‘potential’, not ‘all time’ or ‘all team’. McCrimmon is definitely ahead of Phaneuf. Heck, Denis Gauthier kept opposing forwards fearful, and like Regehr, he always made smarter hits than Dion.
    However, that pratfall when he was trying to drop the gloves was worth reading the rest of the article!

    • Captain Ron

      So you rip Book of Loob a new ass for the derogatory remarks he made about Douglas Murray from his keyboard and then promptly çome here and refer to Phaneuf as a clown from yours.
      Not looking to pick a fight here but by your own measure you just did more or less the same thing he did unless of course you think one word insults are acceptable. Would you call Dion a clown to his face?

      • KACaribou

        No, you are looking for a fight. If you read the shit that clown was saying about Douglas Murray it was way different. But yes I would say that to Dion’s face. Or to yours. But I would doubt that these wimpy bloggers would. And calling a guy who is a clown a clown is was different than the machine gun insults that clown was firing off at Douglas Murray was absolutely nothing. But I admire your intricate attention to detail, and semantics.

  • KACaribou

    Nope. Shouldnt be included. He had a few real good seasons and that was it. Hasnt come close to duplicating any of those years.
    If any of the rumours are true of his time here…. something happened in that room in 2009/2010… not saying everything is his fault but something happened and this team fell apart.

    We had a great team in 2009. Injuries to our Dcore knocked us out of the playoffs that year. So Sutter goes out and gets Bouwmeester and Bsutter. The team comes out to start the season and dominates… we go on a run in Nov/Dec that is something like 18-4. Then all of a sudden in Jan2010 the team goes on a horrific losing streak and the even more horrific trades happen.

    I hope someone writes a book about what happened. Whatever you believe Phaneuf was obviously a negative part

  • KACaribou

    Hey Captain Ron, I wrote you an excellent rebuttal but this site somehow sent it to the nether regions. I don’t have the energy to type it again. You would have love it though. BTW love your attention to detail and semantics. But read over the machine gun insults dude fired at Douglas Murray.

  • FlamesRule

    Yikes. In addition to McCrimmon, I’d put Phil Housely above this guy. Look, I get Dion put up some big numbers while here, but surely if we are valuing character highly on this team by adding the likes of Peplinski and Tim Hunter, this seems to contradict that.

    Also, we can’t have Conroy and Phaneuf on the same team after what allegedly happened.