Mike Babcock and Brendan Shanahan warned it may get worse before it gets better.
Dion Phaneuf said Thursday he’s ready for it.
“Yeah, I’m in,” the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said by telephone. “I signed here for seven years for a reason. To be part of it. I’m fully prepared to go through the process.”
Phaneuf said his phone was off when news of the Babcock hiring broke, then “blew up” when he turned it back on.
“I’m excited. And the guys are excited, too. It’s big for our fans and our organization,” said Phaneuf, adding he’d spoken to a few of them. “There was a lot of interest in where he was going to go, and rightfully so. You want to play for a coach of his calibre.”
During the media conference Thursday, Babcock said he was “a fan of Dion’s.”
The Red Wings, Babcock’s former team, nearly acquired him at the trade deadline this past season.
Phaneuf attended orientation camps for the 2010 and 2014 Canadian men’s Olympic hockey teams, both coached by Babcock. While he said the two men never really spoke specifically about his game, they did get to know each other a little bit.
“You can see how prepared he is, how he makes a plan. He’s won at every level and I’m looking forward to working for him.”