Leafs captain isn't all business

Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf and Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla battle for a loose.    ...

Toronto Maple Leafs' Dion Phaneuf and Calgary Flames' Jarome Iginla battle for a loose. (REUTERS/Mike Cassese)

STEVE MACFARLANE, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:40 PM ET

TORONTO — You see the furrowed brow, the intensity.

The serious side of Dion Phaneuf is public.

Well hidden are personality traits typical of a kid his age.

So well hidden that outsiders often wonder aloud whether Phaneuf has a personality of any kind.

“Yeah, I can confirm it,” said Toronto Maple Leafs teammate Colby Armstrong. “He jokes around a little bit. He’s one of the boys.

“He’s a loud guy. He’s got a loud voice. He’s always talking to the boys.

“You definitely know when he’s in the room, whether at the rink or not.”

Folks at the Air Canada Centre Saturday morning heard him a few times but media members waiting to chat with the Leafs captain were disappointed. He chose to put off any talk until post-game.

Those are the kind of decisions that contribute to his image, as misrepresented as that may be.

But one of his former Calgary Flames teammates has no doubt Dion is one of the most misunderstood and overanalyzed players in the NHL.

“A lot of people have a misconception about him, for whatever reason,” said Giordano, who roomed at Phaneuf’s Calgary home early in his career and has nothing but good things to say about his friend.

“You could say when he’s on the ice or in front of the media in the room, he’s a pretty intense guy. He doesn’t want to let his guard down with you guys.

“He’s a good guy. Funny. He helped me out a lot my first year, giving me a place to stay with him.

“He comes from a good family, and he’s a good person.”

Is he a good captain?

By all accounts, he’s immersed himself in team activities on top of his personal life, which includes dating Hollywood starlet Elisha Cuthbert and spending time with his family when they’re in town.

His on-ice intensity and ability to ignore personal questions all stem from his focus on hockey.

“He wants to win, and he’s a guy that wants to be a big part of winning and a big part of the team. He tries to do a lot,” Giordano said.

“You can’t knock a guy for that.”

There are plenty of things you can knock Phaneuf for. He comes across as an inebriated goof in more than one clip on YouTube (and isn’t nearly as good a singer as he seems to think).

But what 25-year-old isn’t prone to those kind of episodes?

Especially one with a disposable income and a name that can get you into any club you want?

And who wouldn’t have trouble making an impact in a game following a funeral he travelled three time zones across the country to attend the night before?

That was the case last month, when he made his first appearance in Calgary since last January’s trade.

For every mistake or misstep he’s made or will make, you’ll likely find a guy like Giordano or a young fan suffering an illness who says Phaneuf was more than willing to lend a hand or spend some time with them.

There’s certainly more to Phaneuf than that furrowed brow.

It’s just too bad so few people get to see any more than that.


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