MacLean: Toronto fans should welcome Phaneuf back Saturday

Ottawa Senators' Mark Stone, front, and Dion Phaneuf celebrate Stone's goal against the Vancouver Canucks. (Darryl Dyck/CP)

Ron MacLean doesn’t think Maple Leafs fans will boo former captain Dion Phaneuf when he makes his return to Toronto on Saturday night.

MacLean appeared on Sportsnet 590 The FAN’s Dean Blundell & Co. Friday morning, and says that Phaneuf, now an Ottawa Senator, was respected too much to be heckled at Air Canada Centre.

“I think it’s how he held his head high, how he played hard, maybe not brilliantly all the time, but he certainly played hard and the guys seemed to love him,” said MacLean.

Listen Now: Ron MacLean on Dean Blundell & Co.

Phaneuf was traded to the Ottawa Senators on Feb. 9 in a nine-player deal with the Maple Leafs. Phaneuf spent parts of seven seasons with Toronto, scoring three goals and 21 assists in 51 games this year.

The 30-year-old has settled in well with his new team, and has one goal and six assists in 11 games with the Senators.

Although MacLean doesn’t think Phaneuf will be booed, he still sees it being a possibility.

“He should be booed for being an Ottawa Senator and that comes with the territory,” said MacLean.

“As Scotty Bowman always said, a boo in the enemy rink is a cheer. So I don’t think he’ll be offended if people boo.”

Phaneuf had to waive a no-movement clause in order for the Leafs to trade him. He’s currently in the second year of a seven-year contract which carried a $7-million cap hit through 2019-2020.

MacLean pointed out that players don’t want to come to Canada because it’s hard to get away from the hockey scene. He commended Phaneuf for putting Ottawa on his list of teams that he would accept a trade to.

“The theory was, maybe he never thought they would get him traded to Ottawa,” said MacLean. “But at least he was good to the Canadian seven by putting a Canadian team on his list, on his no-movement, no-trade situation and so I think there’s a lot of respect for Dion.”