Phaneuf relishes Norris nod with playoffs in rearview

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 8:00 AM ET

The crushing reality of a Game 7 defeat is sinking in.

So, too, is Dion Phaneuf's status as a finalist for the Norris Trophy as the NHL's best defenceman.

Eager to earn praise but equally reluctant to boast about it in public, the Calgary Flames blueliner did take a couple of minutes to talk about the recent accolade Friday as he prepared for the off-season following the first-round loss to the San Jose Sharks.

"To be honest with you, it's been kind of a whirlwind when you finish," he said. "You kind of reflect over the whole year.

"It's definitely a huge honour to be picked in that group and nominated for that award. I can't say enough how much my teammates, they help you.

"All year, we had a real good group that was real tight, and they helped me to get this recognition, that's for sure."

Heading to Toronto for the June 12 awards show, Phaneuf will make his second appearance at the hardware gala.

He was third in the Calder voting behind Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby a couple of years ago.

"It's a real fun weekend," recalled Phaneuf. "The NHL puts on a real good show."

Phaneuf puts on a pretty good show himself on the ice. Big hits, big goals, a bigger role on his team: The recently turned 23-year-old is quickly realizing his dream of becoming one of the league's elite.

"You definitely want to strive to get there. To be nominated, it's definitely something," he said. "It's a real honour to be nominated for such an award and to be mentioned with those other elite players."

Satisfaction doesn't come easily, though. This year's award is likely going to Nicklas Lidstrom, but Phaneuf has him in his sights in the future.

"I've got lots to learn and lots to keep moving forward with," said Phaneuf. "At the start of the year. it was my goal. You always want to set your goals high. I just wanted to keep improving."


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