“As soon as I got over the initial feelings, I’m really excited to be here,” Phaneuf told reporters in Ottawa following his first skate with his new team Wednesday. “I had a couple flights to get here and a lot of time to think, and I’m excited to be a part of this team.”
Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock raved about Phaneuf’s professionalism on and off the ice, and it was on full display in the Sens’ locker room.
“When I found out [about the trade], there’s the original feelings you have, saying bye to some great teammates, to a real solid organization. I can’t thank the organization there enough for everything that they did for me over my time there,” Phaneuf said.
“I’ve worked for a lot of great hockey people there in management. They’ve got very good ownership, and I’ve got nothing but good things to say about my time in Toronto.”
Phaneuf, who will wear No. 2 in Ottawa, racked up 196 points in his six years with the Leafs after being acquired from the Flames in a seven-player deal in 2010.
Ironically enough, Phaneuf’s last game in a Leafs sweater was a 6-1 loss to the Senators this past Saturday at the Canadian Tire Centre.
“You play against guys, you battle against them, you respect them, and a few days later you’re in the same room,” he added. “The guys have been great here. They’ve really welcomed me, and I’m really excited to get going.”
The Sens were in the market for a top-four defenceman to play on the left side. Phaneuf fit the bill.
The 30-year-old will make his Senators debut Wednesday against the Detroit Red Wings. Fans can watch the game on Sportsnet, with coverage beginning at 6:30 p.m. ET.