After just one game, Dion Phaneuf sweaters have become a fashion statement at the Air Canada Centre.
Centresports, the Maple Leafs’ in-house haberdasher, reported that 110 of Phaneuf’s No. 3 jersey were printed up and sold by the end of Tuesday’s 3-0 win against New Jersey, to go with 10 that were bought Sunday within hours of the trade with Calgary.
Even Phaneuf was taken aback on Wednesday when informed of the sales.
“With the way I was received... it was a great start,” the defenceman said. “It was a huge honour to pull on that jersey, to play my first game in Toronto. The fans are a huge part of this industry and the support that they have is very humbling.”
News of the run on
No. 3 was taken in good spirits by fellow blueliner Garnet Exelby, who gave it up so Phaneuf could retain the number he was comfortable with as a Flame.
Exelby did say Phaneuf was “very generous” with an incentive to get the number back. Pro athletes who switch teams have been known to give wads of cash, a pair of cowboy boots, an expensive dinner or a Rolex watch to sweeten the deal for the digit of their choice. Exelby took Ian White’s vacated
Phaneuf didn’t get a point in Tuesday’s win over New Jersey, but had six hits, a fight, four shots on goal and more than 24 minutes of ice.
“You need marquee players to be successful in our league and Dion brings that,” general manager Brian Burke told the Toronto Sun’s Brett Clarkson. “To get a guy that’s got a high skill level and who also brings an intimidating physical presence is pretty unusual.”
Ex-Flame teammate Wayne Primeau said Phaneuf and new goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere made a huge difference in the room.
“They’ve both come in with the attitude ‘let’s make something happen here,'” Primeau said. “It’s a a good feeling when guys can believe. We have to keep it going. Tomorrow’s another day.”