Dion Phaneuf having trouble adjusting to reasonable media coverage in Ottawa



Former Leaf’s captain returns to Toronto to find a sea of reporters. Picture from Post Media

TORONTO – “Between the final buzzer and the moment reporters start asking me questions has been the most stressful part of my life for the better part of the last seven seasons and it’s been a strange adjustment dealing with Ottawa’s reasonable media coverage to say the least.” Explained the former Leaf’s captain when asked about his transition from Toronto to Ottawa.

“In the juniors and in Calgary I learnt how to answer hockey questions after games. We played hard, fought for the puck, put pressure on the other team, give a hundred 100% etc. but in Toronto a lot of the reporters asked questions that had absolutely nothing to do with hockey. It really hit me in February 2011,” Dion explained, “A reporter asked me Since you’ve been in Toronto at the end of the warm up you always throw five pucks into the stands for the kids, tonight you only threw three, are you unhappy with the Toronto’s children’s foundation? If so, is this your way of expressing your frustration? I literally had no idea what the reporter was talking about and I brushed away the question.”

The next day Dion started receiving hate mail from 905 parents and his character was constantly put into question, a local newspaper even conducted a full-scale inquiry into Phenauf’s children’s charity. “After that I understood that playing hockey in Toronto was different and that most of the media attention given to the team is more along the lines of Entertainment Tonight rather than The Hockey News. So with the help of my wife I learnt how to deal with celebrity gossip reporters. At first it really effected my play. I would count how many pucks I would throw over the boards in the warm up, how many times I drank from my water bottle, how many times I changed my sticks.” Phenauf shared that without the help of renowned Toronto sports psychologist, Dr. Pleine deConscience, he wouldn’t have been able to learn the mindfulness techniques that helped him eliminate all of those distractions during the game. But, as soon as the buzzer would go off at the end of a game he would remember that there were 15 to 20 reporters waiting for him with questions that ranged from what he thought about the creative direction of his wife’s show Happy Endings to why he changed from Bose to Beats head phones.

The newest Ottawa Senator went on to explain how the Ottawa media is different.”Even though I’m wearing a uniform with a cartoon roman centurion that looks surprisingly like Mark Stone and I’m playing in a peach coliseum, when the final buzzer goes off after a game I still get really anxious about what nonsensical questions I’m going to be asked by the media. While I walk back to the dressing room I think about how many pucks I threw over the boards in the warm up, how many times I drank from my water bottle and what shoes I wore to the game and then I look up and see that there are only four reporters waiting to ask questions. By the time I’ve taken off my shoulder pads two of them are laughing at Karlsson’s jokes and there’s one waiting to ask me a question and it’s actually about hockey. The hardest adjustment so far is remembering that I’m playing in city where the fans value reasonableness and hockey more than gossip and unicorns. I went to a Bridgehead Coffee with Bobby [Ryan] in Westboro and we were treated like any other customers, we waited in line, ordered our drinks and then sat and talked about politics, no one even asked us for our autographs, the barista just said Welcome to Ottawa and that was it.”

Disclaimer: The journalist who filed this story was unable to confirm if Dion Phaneuf actually said any of this but the managing editor and named parter of the creative journal, John Ramsgate, is satisfied with the content of the story and believes that the spirit of this article is accurate to what Dion Phaneuf would have said if interviewed by a Ramsgate & Hackett journalist. 

Ramsgate & Hackett

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