Coach’s Corner: Phaneuf better off without ‘C’

Don Cherry had plenty to say on Sunday, including the dangers of throwing a puck up the middle of the ice on a clearing attempt and how Mike Babcock should remove the captaincy from Dion Phaneuf while whipping Phil Kessel into shape.

The Toronto Maple Leafs have been quite a story over the past week with the addition of former Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock to the organization.

Don Cherry believes Babcock will make the Maple Leafs a better team sooner than later. Cherry shared some of his thoughts on how Babcock will impact the club in his first season during Sunday’s edition of “Coach’s Corner,” with an emphasis on Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and sniper Phil Kessel.

STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS: | Broadcast Schedule
Rogers NHL GameCentre LIVE | Stanley Cup Playoffs Fantasy Hockey
New Sportsnet app: iTunes | Google Play

“I guarantee you Kessel is going to be 10 pounds lighter when he reports,” said Cherry. “He won’t come to camp laughing about how he was only on skates 10 times [in the off-season]. He better be ready.”

As for Phaneuf, Cherry believes the captain would be better off without the burden of wearing the ‘C’ for the Maple Leafs.

“He’ll [Babcock] straighten Dion out. He’ll have him back there the way he played for Calgary. One thing I would do, and I know it’s going to upset a lot of people, I would take the captaincy off him.”

The Maple Leafs’ leadership group has been a hot topic of discussion since the club began a slide down the standings midway through the 2014-15 season. In Cherry’s opinion, stripping Phaneuf of his captaincy will help make him a more effective defenceman.

“Then he [Phaneuf] can just play,” Cherry said. “Believe me, the Leafs are gonna win. The big thing, though, is to take that captaincy off him.”

Asked about Phaneuf during his introductory press conference, Babcock voiced his support for the Maple Leafs captain and proclaimed himself a fan of the 6-foot-3, 215 pound defenceman.

As for concerns over the Maple Leafs not currently having a general manager in place, Cherry says there’s nothing to worry about with former London Knights coach and executive Mark Hunter in the fold.

“You got Mark Hunter,” Cherry said. “Mark Hunter knows everybody like the back of his hand. If you get a GM in here he’s not telling Mark how to draft.”

When submitting content, please abide by our submission guidelines, and avoid posting profanity, personal attacks or harassment. Should you violate our submissions guidelines, we reserve the right to remove your comments and block your account. Sportsnet reserves the right to close a story’s comment section at any time.