Cherry: Leafs can’t take captaincy from Phaneuf

Dion Phaneuf (Rich Lam/Getty)

Brendan Shanahan doesn’t believe stripping Dion Phaneuf of his captaincy is the solution to the Toronto Maple Leafs’ problems, and neither does Don Cherry.

“You can’t take it off him. That is the putdown of putdowns,” Cherry told Brady and Walker on Sportsnet 590 The Fan Thursday. “If you’re going to take the ‘C’ off him you’re better off trading him.”

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Despite his team not being in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, Phaneuf has been in the spotlight this post-season after a recent report from Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos indicated the Leafs are shopping Phaneuf.

While trade rumours swirl, others have begun debating whether or not he is fit to be the Leafs captain.

“I’m not saying he’s the greatest captain in the world, but there’s no way you can [do that],” the Coach’s Corner icon said. “You can’t take it off him and leave him on the club.”

Teams changing captains is uncommon but not completely unheard of — Rob Blake supplanted Patrick Marleau as the San Jose Sharks’ leader and Brenden Morrow did the same to Mike Modano with the Dallas Stars — however Cherry feels things would be different if the Leafs did it.

“Phaneuf is an intense guy … I think it would really bother him if you did that,” Cherry added.

The 29-year-old signed a seven-year, $49-million contract extension in December that kicks in at the start of next season. In 80 games in 2013-14 he registered eight goals, 23 assists, 144 penalty minutes and a plus-2 rating.

Phaneuf has been Leafs captain since June 2010.

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