TORONTO - This will not go over well: Seven more years of Dion Phaneuf.
For whatever reason, his style of play, his personality, the fact he was awarded a captaincy prematurely, his oversized closet, the market has not warmed to the Leafs best defenceman.
And he is undoubtedly that, despite his many critics -- there is no other contender for the job.
The Phaneuf signing, when it becomes official will be for seven years and $49 million, and is neither bargain nor disastrous: It's probably too long, probably too expensive, but with free agency pending that is the price of doing business in today's National Hockey League. Phaneuf would have done better financially in the open market.
The challenge now for general manager Dave Nonis, who has long-term certainty with Phaneuf and Phil Kessel as signature pieces, is find a way to surround them with equals or betters. The goal, Tim Leiweke, keeps telling us, is to win the Stanley Cup.