Yesterday was a historic day for the Toronto Maple Leafs.The unveiling of the new 90's inspired jerseys and a new captain named Dion Phaneuf.
In case you didn't remember, Dion Phaneuf came over to Toronto via late season trade with the Calgary Flames (or the Flambays as TSN's Dan O'toole affectionately calls them). When Dion arrived he was the most excited, unexcited player to be traded.
While Dion's pugnacious play inspired Leafs Nation and the team to a hard-working style play, Phaneuf's media tenacity leaves more to be desired. After his recent interview on OTR, I came to realize that 1) He is excited, again, to be Captain. 2) He may or may not actually listen to what the interviewer is asking 3) He may need some media training.
There are only 6 places in the NHL where you need a Captain who is above average with the media and only two where you need a Captain who is great. Unfortunately, Toronto is one of the two.
Phaneuf needs to be taught that just because you are saying something for example "I'm excited to..." you should look at least like you aren't in pain and/or re-experiencing a traumatic childhood event.
I know that MLSE has plenty of good Communications Advisors, in this case they need to step in. They don't need to prepare all his speeches and talking points, they just need to tell him to answer questions, in a natural way. Or at least prepare his talking points with him, so they sound natural. If asked what he thinks of the team, he should say what he thinks (minus disrespecting teamates or the organisation). Honest answers would not only look better, but they would sound better.
After all the Toronto Media can be pretty crazy at times and the stronger relationships you build earlier, the easier it is if you miss the playoffs. And in Toronto that is never easy.He doesn't have to be Brian Burke but smile here a laugh there might help. Ultimately the media want a quote, story or something from him. We know he brings the tenacity on the ice, he just needs to bring that to the scrum.
As I write this, the star is featuring an email opportunity to ask Dion Phaneuf your questions. If Dion develops a mild form of Brian Burke's gruff but pleasant media composure, then that combined with his on ice play may provide the Leafs with what they need most, a leader.