Toronto Maple Leafs v Boston Bruins - Game Five

On Friday, former assistant GM of the Toronto Maple Leafs was on Oilers Now discussing a rumour that the Oil have interest in Dion Phaneuf, when he apparently chose to not mince words about the Maple Leafs captain.

“Dion Phaneuf should be dispatched as soon as they possibly can and the story I hear is that Edmonton’s interested and if they are tell [general manager Craig MacTavish] to take him and have fun with him. I find him to be the most overrated, undernourished hockey player in the history of the NHL and whoever made him the captain of the Maple Leafs should have been fired six years ago.”

Under…nourished? Is Phaneuf really skinny, did I miss something?

I live in Toronto, and I’m pretty consistently blown away by what a polarizing player Phaneuf is. He’s a 28-year old 6’3″ 215-pound d-man who logs a lot of minutes against tough competition and was on pace for a 48-point year last season, according to this article by Jonathan Willis. He makes a healthy paycheck and probably earns a few more nickels than he should at $6.5M, but he isn’t grossly overpaid when you consider that he’d probably get that or more on the open market.

Yet because he’s perceived as a dick – and make no mistake, that is the general perception – some people think he’s the biggest plug in the league. In fact, calling him “overrated” at this point is like calling Patrice Bergeron “underrated.” The pendulum has swung so far counter to old perception that the two might want two switch labels (not a knock on Patrice, there’s just no denying everyone everywhere slobbers over the guy).

I have no idea if the Leafs are trying to trade Phaneuf or not, and I have no idea if the Oilers want him, but I do know that Watters’ comments on Phaneuf are borderline-kind compared to what the general public says about this guy. I’m not sure how we got here (maybe he’s a part-time baby-puncher?), but it sure feels like Phaneuf the Player gets a tough rap thanks to Phaneuf the Dude.