Phaneuf is all business

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

Andrew Ference had just finished telling a reporter that Dion Phaneuf actually smiles every now and then when he looked over at his Calgary Flames teammate and saw some evidence.

Sitting at his locker in the dressing room after the morning skate yesterday, Phaneuf was being interviewed by The Score's Cabral Richards, better known for his show Cabbie on the Street. After minutes of cajoling and joking, Phaneuf managed a grin near the end of the interview.

Phaneuf has gained a reputation for his serious manner and his vanilla quotes with the media, but most importantly, there aren't many, if any, young defencemen in theNational Hockey League who are as complete a package as the 21-year-old.

"He does not have a weakness," Flames captain Jarome Iginla said. "Some guys you look at and you can find one or two things (they are good at). And he is fearless. It's pretty amazing, being as young and as fearless as he is."

About the only fault Phaneuf had as a rookie last season was something beyond his control. He entered the NHLat the same time as Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby, and as a result didn't get the ink he deserved.

But Phaneuf, who was third in Calder Trophy voting behind those two after scoring 20 goals and adding 29 assists, does not mind. He grabs attention with his crushing body-checks, as the Ottawa Senators' Denis Hamel realized during a game on Thursday night.

"Itake pride in being a physical player, and it is something I have to do to be effective,"the 6-foot-3, 210-pound Phaneuf said. "My goal since day one of camp in the first year was to keep improving and that has not changed. I try to learn as much as I can from our older guys and Andy is one who has helped me a lot."

Both born in Edmonton but six years apart, Ference and Phaneuf are roommates on the road. Ference has become tight with his younger and bigger teammate.

"When he is around the rink and he is around hockey, it's all business with him," Ference said. "Once he gets outside the arena he lightens up and the real person comes out. He talks to people and makes friends. It's two different characters."


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