Cheers, jeers, or a mixture of both await Dion Phaneuf at the Saddledome Thursday night in his return.
But as ugly rumours still seem to make their way around the world wide web when it comes to Phaneuf’s time in Calgary, his former teammates still stand by the idea he was a solid teammate.
They weren’t about to plead with the fans to treat him right, but hope they show some class to a kid who gave his all every time he hit the ice.
“He never wanted to leave. He wanted to stay here. Hopefully the fans realize how good he was here,” said Olli Jokinen. “He played hard, practised hard. Hopefully they won’t boo him too much.”
Craig Conroy thinks Phaneuf could receive the same treatment he got as a member of the L.A. Kings when he came back for the first time after the lockout.
“I think it’s gonna be good at the beginning. If he crushes someone with a big hit, maybe some boos,” Conroy joked. “The boos will just come from a few. I don’t think they’ll be raining down from everywhere.
“I probably heard a few boos, but if you have 10 people booing, that’s not bad when you have 19,000 people in the building.
“It’ll be interesting to see how the fans perceive it.”
From his alleged fight with Jarome Iginla to other wild Internet rumours that don’t deserve to be printed, some have drawn the conclusion Phaneuf was an awful person.
“There’s so many (rumours). They make him sound like this cancer, like he was such a bad teammate. He was totally fine,” said Conroy, who is the subject of one of the more outlandish accusations.
“I can say something about anybody and put it in a blog and then have it kind of run wild. But the guys in the room know what’s going on.”
“Dion was a good teammate.”
Iginla was the first to congratulate Phaneuf when he was given the Maple Leafs captaincy.
Jokinen had dinner with him last season after both were traded away.
“I would take him on my team any day,” said Jokinen.
“It’s good to see he’s getting that leadership role in Toronto. Over here, the leadership was in place. Dion was one of the leaders here, as well, but now he’s got the C on his jersey, it’s his team there. He can run the show there.
“He’s the type of guy that wants to be in the spotlight, too,” he added with a smirk. “He loves it over there.
“It’s his team.”
His former one remembers him fondly, despite what else you may have heard.