Dion Phaneuf

Approximately one week until the start of training camp Toronto Maple Leafs’ newly appointed captain, Dion Phaneuf, made news on Tuesday, when he announced that the primary goal for the team this season is to qualify for the Stanley Cup play-offs in April. While this is obvioulsy the prime goal for every team, for some reason, it counts as big news in Toronto. “Anything short of that (playoffs) is unacceptable,” Phaneuf was traded from the Calgary Flames to the Leafs last January 31. He said, “We did a lot of good things at the end of last year, played some really good hockey, and with the additions we made over the summer, our goal, definately, is to make the play-offs”.This 25 year-old captain, who scored two goals and 10 points in 26 games with Toronto, believes that the chemistry is coming together in Toronto and that the players are excited by the strong finish they had last year; which they believe can be sustained for an entire season. “We learned a lot as a group,” Phaneuf said. “We’re going to take what we learned –move forward — and use that as experience going into this year. We know that we have to get off to a good start and we’re going to be a hard-working team — night in — and night out.” If the Leafs are — in fact — to break their ugly five year drought, of missing the post season dance, then they must be able to manufacture more goals. A glaring statistic from last year’s team is that they scored only scored 214 goals; which placed them fourth worst in the league. Last year the Leafs finished 29th overall with a record of 30-38-14; which was good for only 74 points. Still, GM, Brian Burke, likes what he has heard from Phaneuf and is also optimistic about the coming season. “We use the ‘P’ word and it sets people off in this marketplace,” Burke said. “That’s our goal — that’s our intention. No bold statements! I think it’s great for a player to say that”. The long 82 game journey begins on October 7 against the Montreal Canadiens.

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