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Flames' players react to Phaneuf trade

by Jason Johnson / Calgary Flames

-- He's the last man standing.

Matt Stajan, the last remaining piece of the puzzle from the 2010 blockbuster deal that sent then-Calgary Flames' defenceman Dion Phaneuf to the Toronto Maple Leafs along with Fredrik Sjostrom and defensive prospect Keith Aulie, smiled when he was reminded that he is the only active player who hasn't changed locations since.

"That was my one goal," he chuckled.

It is nine days removed from six years to the day when Stajan became a member of the Flames along with Niklas Hagman, Jamal Mayers and Ian White. Hagman has bounced around, spending time playing hockey in Finland, Switzerland and more recently the KHL. Mayers retired after a Stanley Cup win with the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013 and is now working as an analyst on the NHL Network while Ian White split has last professional season in 2014-15 between Providence and Milwaukee of the AHL.

"I’ve been fortunate to find my niche here in Calgary," Stajan said after Calgary's morning skate Tuesday. "We’ve got a good group. You just take it one day at a time, same old cliché. We have a lot of things to worry about here. Winning hockey games is what we focus on daily."

News of a nine-player swap Tuesday morning involving Phaneuf again between the Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators swept through the Flames locker room when they stepped off the ice in preparation of facing Toronto, who have a temporary home just 100 feet down the hallway.

"It was out of the blue. Anytime that many players get moved I think it’s a story," Stajan continued. "All of their lives are changing for good – you’ve got to pick up and go right away. It’s exciting for [the media] to talk about but as players it’s a tough day. A lot of adjustments and changes but you move forward."

It’s exciting for [the media] to talk about but as players it’s a tough day. A lot of adjustments and changes but you move forward.Matt Stajan

Along with Phaneuf, the Leafs sent forwards Matt Frattin, Casey Bailey, Ryan Rupert and defence prospect Cody Donaghey to the Senators in exchange for defenceman Jared Cowen, forwards Colin Greening, Milan Michalek and Tobias Lindberg as well as Ottawa’s second-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.

An enormous trade and one of the biggest and most shocking in recent memory.

A deal involving that number of players is very rare, especially in today's complicated NHL salary cap world. Moving a contract like Phanuef's is not easy.

"It’s a little surprising. We’ve obviously heard rumors with Dion’s name involved for a little bit here but still," said Mark Giordano, who skated alongside Phaneuf for two seasons. "Good player, he was playing well for them this year, and from what I’ve heard, it’s been all positive. It’s a little bit surprising but when things happen like that, there’s usually a lot more involved.”

Joe Colborne knows first-hand what it's like to play in the Toronto market, suiting up for 15 games with the Buds before being traded to the Flames in the fall of 2013.

The 6-foot-5, 213-pounder was also dealt to the Leafs from the Boston Bruins -- who selected him in the first round of the 2008 NHL Draft -- prior to that, packaged up with a pair of draft picks in return for defenceman Tomas Kaberle.

"It just seems like that’s the way it goes with the Leafs – they always have to make a splash," Colborne said. "It’s a huge trade for them and a huge trade for the Senators. I know a few of the guys in that trade and I just hope for the best for them.

"It just shows this game is a business. It’s easy to forget those nine guys have families that are getting uprooted and new homes. It could be a good opportunity for a lot of those guys."

Bob Hartley isn't sure what to expect from the Leafs tonight. A trade of that magnitude -- especially involving a key piece of the organization -- can usually provide some spark and motivate a dressing room.

"Usually it brings new life. Those guys coming they’ll certainly want to prove that it was a good trade and then the jury is going to be out," Hartley said. "Who won the trade and who lost the trade and everything? You can’t judge a trade on one night, we all know that. It creates excitement, it puts everyone on their toes and that’s part of our business.

"You have to be in that locker room and the organization to really get the pulse," Hartley continued. It’s easy for us to comment on anything that goes on with other teams but really we don’t know more than the fans. We can make our own opinions but there is plenty of people that are doing this in front of us."

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