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As far as game preparation tactics go, it has to rank as one of the stranger things Toronto Maple Leafs coach Ron Wilson has tried in his 17 years behind an NHL bench.

With his team about to embark on a three-game swing through Western Canada, where defenceman Dion Phaneuf will face his former team, the Calgary Flames, Wilson let loose with a few catcalls for his captain at practice here Monday.

"I was booing Dion because I think he's going to hear it," Wilson said. "He's going to hear it in all three places I would expect. We were just trying to have fun with Dion and getting him prepared."

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The Leafs play the Edmonton Oilers on Tuesday in Phaneuf's hometown to begin the trip and the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday to close it, but it's his return to Calgary on Thursday that continues to receive most of the attention.

Phaneuf was nominated for both the Calder Trophy and Norris Trophy as a Flame, but fell out of favour and was traded with Freddy Sjostrom and Keith Aulie to the Leafs in a blockbuster deal last season for Matt Stajan, Niklas Hagman, Ian White and Jamal Mayers.

Neither team has exactly prospered since the deal. Heading into the NHL's slate of games Monday, Toronto was 24-24-7 and Calgary 25-27-5 since the Jan. 31 trade.

Both teams are well out of playoff position so far this season.

While it's widely expected Phaneuf will receive a frosty reception in his first game against the Flames, he said he has "no hard feelings at all" about being dealt away.

"I'm extremely happy with where I'm at," Phaneuf said. "It was a great move for me personally."

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About the Author
Hockey Reporter

James joined The Globe as an editor and reporter in the sports department in 2005 and now covers the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs. More


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