Though he hasn’t played in the NHL since the 2018-19 season and is still technically on the books for both the Ottawa Senators and Los Angeles Kings, Dion Phaneuf has announced his retirement. The veteran defenseman released a long statement thanking his family, friends and the teammates he made along the way. In it, he gives special mention to the Toronto Maple Leafs, who hosted his retirement ceremony today:
A great thanks to the entire Toronto Maple Leafs organization, their ownership and leadership Larry Tanenbaum and Brendan Shanahan for providing me with this opportunity to retire with such love and support here in Toronto. It was a special honour to represent the Maple Leafs as team captain a point of pride and honour that I will carry with me forever.
Selected ninth overall by the Calgary Flames in 2003, Phaneuf was a throwback defenseman who at his peak could compete in any style of hockey. The 6’4″, left-shot powerhouse was a star for the Red Deer Rebels, scoring goals and racking up penalty minutes with big hits and tough fights. By the time he made his debut with the Flames in 2005 he was already a well-known name in Canada thanks to his performances at the World Juniors, but his first taste of the NHL put him on the map for all hockey fans. With 20 goals and 49 points in his rookie season, he finished eighth in Norris Trophy voting and only failed to win the Calder Trophy because there were a couple of players named Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby entering the league.
In 2007-08 Phaneuf would reach a career-high of 60 points, while also racking up 182 penalty minutes as he fearlessly patroled the Calgary blue line. He’d finish second in Norris voting that year, trailing only legendary defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom, who was taking home the trophy for the sixth time in seven years. That was the closest Phaneuf would get, but he still had a long career ahead of him, including his captaincy in Toronto. Overall, he played in 1,048 regular season games, racking up 494 points, 1,345 penalty minutes and more than 2,000 hits.
In 2019, the last two years of his contract were bought out by the Kings, meaning he’ll still receive a paycheck through 2022-23. The Senators had been retaining salary on the deal, so both franchises carry a part of Phaneuf’s cap hit for this season and next.