Top 10 ’24/7′ Characters: No. 7 Dion Phaneuf

Dion Phaneuf is one of the most polarizing players in the NHL, but once fans see the Toronto Maple Leafs captain on '24/7: Road to the Winter Classic' their view of him will change. (Francois Lacasse/NHLI/Getty)

As we ready our popcorn and PVRs for the debut of 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic, we count down the top 10 characters on the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings we’re most excited to get to know better. No. 7: Dion Phaneuf.

Dion Phaneuf is one of the most polarizing players in the NHL. Heck, even many Leafs fans are split on him. Some love his gruff exterior and droll sense of humour, but he rubs others the wrong way.

However, when the Toronto Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings appear in HBO’s infamous 24/7: Road to the Winter Classic series, don’t be surprised if Phaneuf’s popularity takes a significant leap.

On the ice this season, some have been critical of his foot speed and perceived lack of a physical edge, however Phaneuf has consistently produced on the scoresheet and he’s even on his way to having a career year in plus/minus and a career low in penalty minutes per game.

In media scrums we hear copious amounts of cliché captain quotes, but fans will be afforded the opportunity of getting a glimpse of how he endears himself to his teammates. It should be fascinating. He’s the captain for a reason, and it’s not just because he was a high draft pick and his jersey sells well.

It will be interesting to see how the Leafs’ leader comes across. Some players and personalities tend to shy away from the type of exposure a series like 24/7 comes with, but Phaneuf doesn’t appear to be one of those people. In fact, he’s looking forward the experience.

Now, the x-factor for this edition of 24/7 will be how big a role, if any, Phaneuf’s wife has. The Leafs captain is married to popular Canadian actress Elisha Cuthbert and chances are she’ll make an appearance.

They’re the NHL’s power couple, which equals quality TV, right? I mean, seriously, how adorable?

Tune in as 24/7 follows the Maple Leafs and Red Wings on the road to the NHL’s Winter Classic, Jan. 1, 2014 at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor, Mich. The first episode debuts at 7:30 p.m., Sunday, Dec. 15 on Sportsnet East, Ontario and Pacific.

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