Appearing on Coach’s Corner with Ron MacLean, Cherry explained his rationale.
“When he came in, they put pressure on him,” Cherry said Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada. “They made him captain. Worst thing they ever did was make him captain. Now he’s got to go out to press. He’s got to be the guy instead of just fading in.”
The Maple Leafs dealt Phaneuf to the Ottawa Senators earlier in the week as part of a nine-player trade.
Phaneuf had just one playoff appearance in six-plus seasons in Toronto. He recorded 45 goals and 151 assists in 423 games with Toronto.
Cherry added the Senators need to find a stable role for the veteran defenceman, who he believes can still be a valuable player, and he likes the fit on a pairing with Cody Ceci.
“(Ottawa), keep him on that right side. He cannot play the left side. And leave him there.”
Otherwise, Cherry praised Maple Leafs prospect Mitch Marner, Edmonton Oilers rookie Connor McDavid and proclaimed that the Vancouver Canucks will qualify for the post-season, despite being on the outside looking in right now.
“Canucks will make the playoffs. Edler/Sutter. Miller was out. Hamhuis. Sedin was out. More tough luck. They will make the playoffs. Glad for Willie (Desjardins).