CALGARY, AB -- After general manager Darryl Sutter pulled the trigger on a blockbuster, seven-player deal that sees star blueliner Dion Phaneuf head east to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the 24 year-old was visibly distraught about leaving the Calgary Flames.
"It was definitely a shock," Phaneuf said with tears in his eyes. "I found out this morning. The toughest part is saying bye to your buddies and the relationships that you've made."
Phaneuf, Fredrik Sjostrom and prospect Keith Aulie, were dealt to Toronto on Sunday morning in exchange for F Matt Stajan
, F Niklas Hagman,F Jamal Mayers and D Ian White.
Phaneuf said that the trade came as a total surprise and he wasn't the first to know what he and Sjostrom would not be Calgary Flames as of Sunday morning.
"You guys (the media) found out before me."
While Phaneuf is sad to be leaving Alberta, he said that he understands the trade.
"It's part of the business. I know that's a cliche ... If Wayne Gretzky can get traded, anyone can get traded. I was very surprised but on the other hand, I'm very excited to be going to the biggest hockey market in the world. I talked to them this morning and I'm very excited to be a Toronto Maple Leaf and getting there.
"To be honest with you, I'm just focused on getting my bags packed. I found out this morning and now I have to go home and pack."
The defenseman has been dogged by trade rumors all season, with the last bunch speculating Phaneuf wanted out of Calgary and had asked for a trade. He denied this asseration at the time of questioning and denied it once again on Sunday morning.
"No," he stated firmly. "No. I didn't."
Phaneuf was drafted by the Flames in the first round of the 2003 draft (ninth overall) and has been a staple of the blueline ever since. In his four and half seasons with the Flames, Phaneuf amassed 75 goals and 228 points.
"It was a great four and a half years in Calgary but I'm very excited to be a Toronto Maple Leaf."