Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Leafs Captain Phaneuf Unsure How He'll Be Received in Return to ACC

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Former Leafs Captain Phaneuf Unsure How He'll Be Received in Return to ACC

Article excerpt

Phaneuf set to make return to Toronto


OTTAWA - Dion Phaneuf has no clue what awaits him at the Air Canada Centre on Saturday night.

The former Maple Leafs captain will play in Toronto for the first time since he was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 9 in a blockbuster nine-player deal.

"I'm not sure, I'll give you the honest answer," Phaneuf said, on how Leafs fans might react. "You asked me that question and I'm not sure. We'll see (Saturday) night how I'm received, but my focus is here and how we've got to get our game back to the level we're capable of."

Phaneuf played over 400 games for Toronto, was captain for six years, and was involved in numerous charitable organizations. But his new teammates aren't convinced Toronto's fans will offer a warm homecoming.

"I'm sure there will be a few energy bursts from the fans when he's got the puck," said Craig Anderson. "I think he'll smile and enjoy the moment. It's definitely a cool feeling when people are against you. It gives you a reason to bring your 'A' game."

Phaneuf's addition has brought a veteran presence and added depth to Ottawa's blue-line and Zack Smith admits it's kind of nice knowing the Senators won't have to battle with him anymore when playing Toronto.

"I'm sure it will be a little strange for him, being the first time back in the building since he was traded," Smith said. "He's a huge addition for our team, a big presence back there. I know from playing against him, you're aware when he's on the ice because he likes to step up. He's a big physical guy, so that should help us and any time you've got forwards thinking about who is on ice, it's definitely going to help you."

With the Senators still desperately fighting to get into the playoffs, Phaneuf says his focus is on his current team.

As of Friday, the Senators sat seven points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the wild card in the east. …

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