Phaneuf poster boy for injuries

RANDY SPORTAK, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 9:08 AM ET

Dion Phaneuf has often handed out Double Dions.

It's the phrase coined by TSN analyst Pierre McGuire when the Calgary Flames laid out more than one opponent at a time with his big checks.

What is it when a player receives two injuries with one hit? Phaneuf was on the receiving end of double trouble with the check that ended his playoff series.

When Troy Brouwer nailed Phaneuf with an open-ice check a split-second after he fired a shot on net, it separated his shoulder and cracked a rib where it meets the sternum.

"I haven't felt great, that's for sure," Phaneuf said. "Not using that as an excuse. The rib happened in Game 5, the rib and shoulder, and that's where the pain is from."

In the end, Phaneuf really was the epitome of the walking wounded. He wouldn't admit to battling injuries all season, which is what's believed to be the case, but that shoulder and rib/sternum problem wasn't all that hampered him.

Phaneuf missed the final two regular season games due to a muscle tear in his back. Late-season reports he travelled to Minnesota to have it checked out were confirmed by head coach Mike Keenan.

Keenan also said Phaneuf battled a hip problem, although Phaneuf said yesterday there is "no issue with my hip."

The injuries were just the conclusion of what was a disappointing season for Phanuef. A year ago, he was runner-up for the Norris Trophy as the league's top defenceman and looked to build on that in the first year of a six-year, US$39-million contract.

Instead, he struggled with a career low 11 goals and 47 points, production made worse by a minus-11 rating.

"Personally, I did not have my best year. I was not happy with my plus-minus -- I've already said that I wasn't happy about that -- and I don't think there's much more to say. I commented on that during the season, after the regular season and now I'm commenting on that again," he said. "I was not happy with my season overall."

Nor the conclusion, for himself and the team being eliminated in the first round.

"It's a disappointing year. I think everyone would agree with that in our room. I'm sure everyone has said that, too," he said.

Phaneuf said he doesn't need off-season surgery. He should be healthy if invited to the Canadian Olympic camp in Calgary in late August.

While Phaneuf did struggle through the season, his determination to make a difference in games has never been called into question.

Keenan expects Phaneuf will take his game to another level.

"His defensive work, he's got great instincts to jump up, is a physical player, but the details -- Jimmy (Playfair) has done a good job really developing and helping him look after those details," Keenan said.


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