Phaneuf loud and clear

ROB LONGLEY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:54 AM ET

On or off the ice, if you can't see Dion Phaneuf, there's a good chance you will hear him.

At practice or in games, the Leafs defenceman is always calling for the puck or communicating vocally with his teammates, just part of the way he has made his presence felt with his new team.

"I'm just being myself," Phaneuf said following Monday's practice at the Air Canada Centre. "I think communication is huge, whether it's in the room or on the ice but especially on the ice. It's the type of guy I am -- a vocal guy -- that's no secret to anyone. It's a big part of my game."

It wasn't long after being shipped here from Calgary in January that Phaneuf's impact had an effect. As the unofficial general of the Leafs' youth movement, he has already touted been as a potential Leafs captain.

That's putting the cart ahead of the horse -- as his grandfather/harness racing trainer Ron MacArthur might say -- and Phaneuf scoffs at such suggestions. There is no denying his influence with his young teammates, however.

"Because of (Phaneuf) we're a lot louder on the ice," Leafs coach Ron Wilson said. "People yelling for passes and doing little things. He makes it fun to be out there.

"Practice goes by faster because it's a lot more intense. He's very demanding of his teammates to practice hard as well."

If there has been something missing from Phaneuf, it has been his rifle from the point, particularly on the power play: He's yet to score in 16 games as a Leaf after counting 10 in 55 with the Flames.

"If you ask Dion, he says: 'I get two points every night we win,'" Wilson said. "That's the most important thing."

Phaneuf isn't about to take credit for the team's recent run, which has seen them win six of their past seven games. But he likes being a part of the new attitude in town.

"We're young, we're fast and we work hard," Phaneuf said. "We're a very close group that came together quickly after the trade deadline. We have a lot of work to do but the good thing is everyone wants to learn and get better and we're doing that."

And his teammates are getting the message loud and clear.

"It wouldn't surprise me if he woke up screaming," Leafs forward Viktor Stalberg said with a laugh.


Videos

Photos