In spite of the fact that many would consider veteran defenseman Dion Phaneuf to be on the down side of his career in the National Hockey League he remains one of the most recognizable names in the sport of hockey. Phaneuf has long since established himself as an every night guy in the National Hockey League and it is for that reason that many an eyebrow was raised earlier this week when Phaneuf was announced as a healthy scratch for the very first time in his career at the NHL level.
The move was made by interim head coach Willie Desjardins and that had to make it an even more bitter pill for the experienced Phaneuf to swallow. According to a report from Curtis Zupke of the Los Angeles Times Phaneuf was bordering on defiance when the news was first announced and when you consider the man has played in over 1000 career NHL games you can easily see why he would bristle at being made a healthy scratch by an interim coach. Phaneuf has seemingly swallowed that bitter pill since then however and although his comments recently clearly showed he remains unhappy, he appears to have fallen in line behind his head coach.
“I talked to Willie,” Phaneuf said as per the Los Angeles Times. “[It’s] Willie’s decision. I talked to [general manager] Rob [Blake]. For me, I’ve got a job to do. I come to work every day. It’s obviously something that I wasn’t happy about. But I respect the decision. I respect our team. I respect my teammates. It’s all about winning games.”
For what it is worth, Willie Desjardins said that scratching Phaneuf was a difficult decision and would also go on to state that it was one of the worst aspects of the job as a head coach in the National Hockey League.
“That’s tough,” Desjardins said. “That’s a tough thing to do, especially when it’s never happened before. I appreciate his character and his leadership. That’s the worst part of coaching.”
The Kings have been a relatively dysfunctional team this season, performing well below expectations, and with obvious frustration behind the scenes fueled by moves like this you have to wonder what might be next for a player like Dion Phaneuf.