Dion Phaneuf always had the ability to lay out a huge hit. If you were an opposition player entering the zone with your head down, watch out. They didn’t come as often in Toronto as they did in Calgary for various reasons, but when they did come they hurt hard and left a huge thump.
The current Maple Leafs young guns are going to have to do just that when they face their former captain tonight.
Here are the top five Dion hits as a Maple Leaf:
5) Oshie goes down
Oshie had his head down. Paid for it:
4) Stepping into Hornqvist
I remember watching this live and feeling a thunderous vibration through the cores of my bones:
3) Bowen Lights Up!
Maybe the best part about this hit is the reaction from Joe Bowen. But the there had to be something to react to and it was big:
2) A soured up Sauer
Unfortunately for Mike Sauer, he didn’t play another NHL game after this. It wasn’t a dirty hit by any means, but Phaneuf once again preyed on a player looking down:
1) Da Costa is Eliminated
The helmet came off, the player went down, and the rival Senators were left embarrassed. Good thing Stephane Da Costa no longer plays for Ottawa and has to make friends with the guy that did this to him. The most memorable Dion hit:
Say what you want about Phaneuf’s tenure in Toronto, but we likely won’t see someone entertain us like this for a while.
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Tonight the spectacle is at the Air Canada Centre where former Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf returns for the first time to face his old team since being traded to the Ottawa Senators in a nine player trade.
Towards the end of his Toronto tenure, the goals dried up for Phaneuf scoring just seven goals in the last three seasons. A stark difference from the first four seasons where he was able to tally an average of nine goals per season with the Leafs.
Ahead of tonight’s game, we take a look at some of his best goals as a Maple Leaf:
5) First as a Leaf
It took a while to come and it wasn’t pretty, but Phaneuf’s first goal with the Maple Leafs:
4) Classic Phaneuf Goal
A classic Phaneuf one-timer on the power play, the thing he’s done to make a living in the NHL. Does it against his now current team and smashes the goal camera for good measure:
3) Beating Miller
I’ve always said there weren’t many players in the league that could beat a goalie straight-on with a shot from the blue line. Phaneuf was one of those that could, and he did it Ryan Miller here:
2) Clutch against the Canes
The offensive pressure the Leafs were applying to the Hurricanes was relentless. Finally they broke through and it was Phaneuf with a clutch shot:
1) The Big One
Without a doubt the most memorable goal in Phaneuf’s tenure in Toronto. After making a costly pinch in game four that lead to a David Krejci OT goal, Dion made up for it with a huge goal in game six:
Honourable mention: First as Captain
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