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article imageMaple Leafs sign Captain Phaneuf to $49 Million extension

By Dave Pitman     Dec 31, 2013 in Sports
Toronto - The Toronto Maple Leafs decided not to wait until 2014 to lock up their captain Dion Phaneuf to a seven-year extension worth $49 million.
The deal comes on the eve of the 2014 NHL Winter Classic in Ann Arbor.
"This is a very proud day for me and my family," Phaneuf said in a statement. "I'm very honoured to be the captain of this historic franchise and to maintain the opportunity to play and represent the Toronto Maple Leafs for many years to come. We have passionate fans and a dedicated ownership group. I have great teammates and look forward to growing with them and achieving our goal of winning."
The deal will be wildly debated, as are most in Toronto. Phaneuf, however, seems to bring out the crazy in Maple Leaf fans, as he is either loved or hated in the city. At the age of 28, Phaneuf has served as the Maple Leafs captain for the last four seasons. Acquired in a trade from Calgary by Brian Burke, Phaneuf was the first player given captaincy since Mats Sundin played his last game for the team in 2008.
Although not as effective offensively as his first few seasons in Calgary, Phaneuf is having a solid year on the Maple Leafs Blue line this season, a year where defensemen on the team have been struggling. Playing over 25 minutes a game against the opposing teams top lines, Phaneuf boasts a +13.
In 639 regular season games, Phaneuf has 110 goals and 355 points with 851 penalty minutes. Out of the 261 games he's played for Toronto, Phaneuf has recorded 35 goals and 127 points.
Phaneuf provides sparks in many areas. He is currently eighth in the NHL in hits with 102. This makes him very tough to play against. His +13 is tied for 11th in the league among defensemen with Drew Doughty in plus/minus. That puts him ahead of some pretty respectable names: Alex Pietrangelo, P.K. Subban, Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Suter, Shea Weber and Zdeno Chara.
Love him or hate him, The Toronto Maple Leafs cannot afford to let Phaneuf go. This is a team that has had struggles on the blue line all year, and letting Phaneuf walk without bringing in a bonafide #1 Defenceman is a step backwards rather than forward.
"Dion is our team leader and has been a pillar in our building process," said general manager Dave Nonis. "He has proven to be a very durable and reliable defenceman in all facets of the game. He plays big minutes in every situation for us and we're pleased to have him under contract for the next seven seasons."
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