The first documented Phaneuf'ing of the 2008-09 regular season occurred in last night's home opener for the Vancouver Canucks: Henrik Sedin skated through the neutral zone and into Calgary Flames ice, and then Dion Phaneuf skated through Sedin.
That led to a curious bit of enforcement from Steve Bernier of the Canucks, whose fight card last season was generously middleweight. Phaneuf was ready; see if you can find the exact millisecond in which Bernier decided to apply a death grip to Dion's sweater and avoid facial rearrangement:
The reviewers over on HockeyFights.com called this dance a draw, although their comments were scathing about the lack of effort: "Crap fight between 2 visored goofs. Typical new NHL fight right there. BOO."
The announcers were enamored by Bernier rushing to the defense of his teammate, although attempting to rip the sleeves from Phaneuf's jersey probably isn't much of a deterrent. The Flames actually may have been quietly hoping Dion took a stiff jab to the mug last night in order to snap him from the kind of pedestrian defensive effort that could guarantee Lidstrom's 51st Norris Trophy next summer.
It was an interesting contrast in emotions last night: The Detroit Red Wings come out flat after celebrating their 2007-08 Stanley Cup title. The Vancouver Canucks honor fallen teammate Luc Bourdon with a pregame tribute (video), and manage to remain composed and focused in a 6-0 win. The Canadian Press did some nice reporting on forward Alex Burrows, and how the Canucks agitator fought off tears before the game:
"For sure this was a special night for everyone in this locker-room. Luc was one of my best friends. I think everyone showed up and played a good game. It was an emotional night for us but I think once we got going, and got our legs going, we played pretty well."
Burrows sent Bourdon a private message, celebrating his first goal with a little bow-and-arrow gesture. "He used to do this move after he scored goals in junior, pulling the arrow and shooting," said Burrows. "I did it really quick, just a little tribute to him."