Flames MUCH better off
Calgary made a fantastic trade yesterday. There is really no other way to start this blog.
I have often mentioned this theory I have where the more someone’s name is mentioned, the better everyone believes they are. If a player makes an early name for himself, his value in the eyes of the average fan rises significantly.
And with that perception comes high expectations.
It’s at this moment fans – and unfortunately sometimes also GMs – start to live by those assumptions and completely forget to judge the player’s actual play.
Case and point: Dion Phaneuf.
Almost every fan you’ll talk to, Flames or otherwise, will tell you Phaneuf is a superstar. And we all heard Leafs GM Brian Burke say he’s an elite defenseman. We heard every sports program discuss his absence from the Olympic team as if it were a major shock. Even I was guilty early in his career of believing he would be an unstoppable force.
But today my only question for all of that is, why?
The answer: Because his name was pounded into our brains on a daily basis since he was 16. Darryl Sutter once said he would trade one of his kids before trading Phaneuf and he hadn’t even played a game yet. It’s natural for fans to believe a player with that hype will be spectacular, and equally as natural they have trouble admitting when it’s just not true.
His numbers in the NHL are formidable, there’s no doubt. He hits a ton and he has a decent – albeit WAY overrated – shot.
However, his statistics have declined in recent seasons and he’s never really shown major leadership qualities. Not to mention the fact he’s not a great skater and often a defensive liability.
Steve Yzerman left him off Team Canada for a reason. Many of which are on-ice deficiencies for sure but you have to wonder if there is a compatibility issue with Phaneuf.
He was Sutter’s golden boy for years and now he’s gone, with all of Darryl’s children still safely at home no less. I have to believe there was an attitude issue here, whether it was always evident or just starting to form.
The Flames real loss in this trade was Keith Aulie, who will very likely become a solid NHL defenseman one day. And Fredrik Sjostrom, who also heads to Toronto, could develop into a decent player as well.
But it’s what the Flames gained yesterday that is huge.
I know I rag on the Leafs all the time and don’t say a ton of nice things about their athletes but the Flames are getting back some pretty decent talent in this deal, and in a place they desperately needed it.
Maybe Sutter read this blog last week when I said the Flames have brutal forwards and an unnecessarily packed blueline because he finally brought in someone worth mentioning besides Iginla.
Niklas Hagman has 20 goals already this season and he did it on a last-place club. I don’t think Matt Stajan will ever get better than he is right now, but he’s threatening to score 30 this year.
Jamal Mayers is terrible but he was a throw-in. And Ian White, whose only problem is the belief he plays in the wild-wild west, is having a good season and is quite underrated.
Calgary made a fantastic trade yesterday. There was really no other way to end this blog.