Dion Phaneuf announced his retirement last week. The announcement came as a surprise to those of us who didn’t realize he was still “active”.
Phaneuf, the ninth overall pick in the 2003 entry draft, was traded by the Calgary Flames to the Toronto Maple Leafs during the 2009-10 season. That summer he was named team captain and led the Leafs until he was traded to the Ottawa Senators during the 2015-16 season. He spent a couple of years in Ottawa before ending his career with the Los Angeles Kings. The Kings bought out Phaneuf’s contract in 2019, and he has not played competitive hockey since.
The Maple Leafs honoured Phanuef on Tuesday night, an interesting choice considering the lack of success during his years in Toronto. During his tenure, the Leafs made the playoffs just once, in the 2012-13 season, and were eliminated in the first round by the Boston Bruins. Yes, that year – the one where the Bruins recovered from a 4-1 third-period deficit to eliminate the Leafs in Game 7. Phaneuf leading the handshake line remains an iconic photo from that season.
Phaneuf is remembered for Salute-gate in November of 2014, when under his captaincy the Leafs did not participate in the normal post-game salute to fans following a win. The gesture was viewed as a protest in response to fan criticism during an abysmal season and made more noise on the radio than Phaneuf ever did on the ice.
Following the Phaneuf ceremony, the Leafs won the game against the Nashville Predators with a final score of 3-0. They have a 11-5-1 record and occupy second place in the Atlantic Division. This is a much better team than any Phaneuf led, but it remains to be seen if they can make it out of the first round.
The Ottawa Senators continue to grapple with COVID-19, which is throwing a wrench into the league's game schedule. The NHL postponed three Sens games this past week against the Devils, Predators and Rangers due to the outbreak. This is the first time the schedule has been affected this season. The Sens are dead last in the Atlantic.
In other hockey news, the Edmonton Oilers and Calgary Flames are off to a strong start and are in second and third place in the Pacific Division. The Winnipeg Jets are in first place in the Central Division.
Montreal and Vancouver are two teams on opposite ends of the country and yet find themselves in the same boat. Their stories for the season are similar – both the Canadiens and the Canucks continue to rack up the losses, with no answers coming from management or coaching, and fans left wondering how long it will go on. The Americans have not even had their Thanksgiving turkey and playoffs are already off the table for these two teams.
Week 15 of 16 in the 2021 CFL season is in the history books and the playoff picture is developing like a Polaroid.
On Friday night, in the wind and rain, the Toronto Argonauts beat the Hamilton Tiger-Cats 31-12 to clinch first place in the East. The Argos now have a bye to the Division Final and will have home field advantage. Meanwhile, out west in Vancouver, the Calgary Stampeders clinched a playoff berth when they beat the BC Lions 33-23. With the loss, the Lions were eliminated from playoff contention.
On Saturday, the Montreal Alouettes beat the Winnipeg Blue Bombers 28-14. The Als snapped the Bombers nine game winning streak and moved into a tie with the Ti-Cats for second in the east. In Regina, the Saskatchewan Roughriders beat the Edmonton Elks 29-24 to clinch second place in the west. The Ottawa Redblacks enjoyed a bye week – their playoff hopes have been long gone.
The West Division playoff schedule has been set. The Roughriders will host the Stampeders on Nov. 28 in the Western semi-final. The winner will face the Blue Bombers in Winnipeg on Dec. 5.
The young Raptors are in the middle of a lengthy road trip that will see them hit six cities in three time zones over 13 days. The trip began with a loss in Portland on Monday, to bring Toronto to a 7-8 record. They were due to be in Utah on Thursday night, Sacramento on Friday, and in San Francisco to face the Golden State Warriors. This week they will finish the trip in Memphis and Indiana and will try to get back to .500 ball before returning home.
Blue Jays Babble
Last Tuesday the Toronto Blue Jays and right-handed pitcher Jose Berrios agreed to terms on a seven year contract extension worth $131 million. Berrios was acquired from the Minnesota Twins at the 2021 trade deadline. The 27-year-old All Star was an important fixture in the Jays rotation down the stretch.
As anticipated, Marcus Semien and Robbie Ray have officially declined their qualifying offers. The Jays made the announcement on Wednesday shortly after the deadline to accept the offers passed. The Jays will still try to sign both, but they will be looking for lucrative multi-year deals. Ray will certainly be due a raise after winning the American League Cy Young Award.
Lori Bennett is a social worker, policy professional, recreational softball player and coach, and new ukulele-ist. Originally from NL and now based in Toronto, Lori loves a good hockey chat or debate, as long as it remains respectful. She posts game time thoughts on twitter as @lori10habs.