SUN Hockey Pool

Players lost friends but welcome additions

RANDY SPORTAK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:19 AM ET

Jarome Iginla's parting shot for Dion Phaneuf was praise.

"He's a great young player. He's only going to get better -- there's no question about that," Iginla said of the defenceman dealt away Sunday.

"He's taken a lot of heat, as we all have, with the tough stretch we were in, but he's a great player that is gonna help Toronto for many years.

"Dion's a friend of ours. I enjoyed playing with him and getting to see his tenacity night in and night out, his competitiveness."

Only one sleep removed from a 6-1 win over the Edmonton Oilers which ended a nine-game winless skid, the Flames awoke to news Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie were traded to Toronto for Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers, Matt Stajan and Ian White.

The trade comes amidst a litany of whispers the Flames had problems in their dressing room, but players all denied there were rifts.

"We don't have a bad culture in our room. Guys work hard. We're committed to the coach's message as far as defence first," Iginla said.

"I think this is going to help us with the skill up front.

"I think it's going to be a positive on that side, to add to the work and the compete level."

Robyn Regehr will be skating with a new defence partner, having spent the season mostly with Phaneuf.

"We had our struggles," Regehr said. "As for this year, we didn't get off to a good start but we were able to kind of battle back. It's been an up and down year for both of us as a pairing."

Phaneuf's closest buddy on the team was Daymond Langkow -- "It's tough to see him leave," he said -- but admitted the depth up front was needed greatly.

"They're definitely going to help. I know Hagman, Stajan and Mayers are going to help us up front offensively, and there's some grit there," Langkow. "Obviously, Ian White is a good puck mover and good passer. He'll help our powerplay. It just comes down to not winning games. When that happens, there's moves that are going to be made."

RANDY.SPORTAK@SUNMEDIA.CA


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