If the Leafs Are Doing It, It Must Be Bad. Right?
Or, he may be an excellent choice.
Fact is, it's rarely known how players, particularly young ones, will handle the mantle of responsibility until they take it out for a spin.
Vinny Lecavalier had the captaincy in Tampa and lost it. Ditto for Patrick Marleau in San Jose. Some who applauded the decision to make Roberto Luongo the captain in Vancouver are now saying it was a terrible idea.
The best captain in the game, of course, is Jonathan Toews, and that's because his team won.
But the point is that the automatic reflex reaction that if the Leafs are doing it, well, it must be wrong, might not necessarily apply.
That, of course, is what you get when you miss the playoffs year after year and then, in a year in which its supposed to turn around, finish 29th.
People say nasty things, and many are deserved.
Trashing the notion of Phaneuf as captain, however, seems a bit premature, particularly when the lone reason to do so is to mindlessly repeat the "rumours" out of Calgary that he wasn't well-liked. Those who pass this gossip along don't have the foggiest notion of whether the gossip is true, but do so anyway.
Well, we'll see if Phaneuf is a good leader in Toronto. We'll see if wearing the "C" gets him back to the point where he was two years ago when people were talking about him as a future Norris Trophy winner, not Duncan Keith.
The facts are that in 26 games with Phaneuf the Leafs were a better team, and that head coach Ron Wilson repeatedly talked about the positive impact Phaneuf had on the Leaf room. Now, admittedly, that's not as saucy as the anonymous rumours out of a losing dressing room in Calgary, but perhaps Wilson's observations deserve some recognition.
More to the point, Phaneuf isn't going to be a bad captain just because its the Leafs who are giving him the job.