It’s hard to say if the Toronto Maple Leafs’ decision to name Dion Phaneuf one of their alternate captains is a sign of a career rebound or rather a profound statement about how desolate this Toronto team really has become since their last captain Mats Sundin left.
In his rookie year, Phaneuf wowed the hockey world with an impressive blend of Scott Stevens-like brutality and top-notch offensive talent. With his crushing body checks and successive season totals of 49, 50 and 60 points, the then-Calgary Flames defenseman was popular enough to become the cover star for NHL ’09.
Oh yeah, he also became involved with a certain cleft-chinned starlet who was once involved with a certain Bart Simpson-like trouble maker.
I don’t know if it was the Curse of Cuthbert or what, but Phaneuf’s game began to devolve noticeably. There were murmurs building about his defensive lapses for some time, but the much-ballyhooed player truly began to take some heat when his offensive numbers started to slide. (Not that 47 points is anything to sneeze at for a defenseman, but this year’s currently projected 30 point total isn’t up to snuff.)
With an expensive off-season signing of Jay Bouwmeester and the rugged defense of Robyn Regehr, it was hard to imagine Calgary spending around $14 million for three defensemen. Eventually, the Flames soured on Phaneuf and traded him to Toronto. The question is: will another Burke gamble yield a gradual turnaround or set the Leafs back even further?
Well, look at this way: worst case scenario, the world will be treated to more hilarious Brian Burke scowls. Now that, Ms. Cuthbert, is entertainment.
From the Southampton Press:
Sean Avery, the former National Hockey League player, was arrested by Southampton Village Police last week on two criminal charges.
According to authorities, Mr. Avery was arrested September 30 following a routine traffic stop on Jennings Avenue in the village at about 4:09 p.m. He was charged with fourth-degree criminal mischief and two counts of seventh-degree criminal possession of a controlled substance, all misdemeanors.
Police said the criminal mischief charge involved an incident the day before, when Mr. Avery allegedly threw objects at passing vehicles.
As for those counts of possession, according to the newspaper, Avery was found to have “two prescription drugs, acetaminophen with oxycodone and roxicodone.”
He was released on $500 bail and ordered to appear in court at a later date.
Did we mention he’s supposed to get married this weekend?
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.