Although a die hard Wings fan, I want to start out by saying I live in Toronto, attend at least 5 leaf games a year, had a close friend play a brief stint with the leafs and my family and friends are all typical leafs fans. All in all, my exposure to the Toronto Maple Leafs is about as strong as it gets considering they are not my favourite team.
Dion Phaneuf is not as bad as the media suggests. Believe me.
I'm sure there are many people here who have played at a high level and understand that statistics do not tell the whole story... His numbers aren't great, He certainly makes a bad read from time to time, and turns the puck over too much. Guess what? I would literally take him over any DMAN on the Wings not named Nick. His real value is in the tough minutes he logs. When motivated and at his best, he plays every shift against the opposing teams best players night in and night out and does a lot better against them than the media will lead on.
He has seen 3 coaches, 3 different systems and has yet to have a reliable (whether consistent or talented) partner to build chemistry with. Also - it doesn't take much to figure out that the forwards he takes most shifts with might lack a few defensive instincts: Kessel -21 , JVR -23, Bozak -20. Much harder on any Defenseman when your forwards don't help out.
Pair him with Kronwall and watch what happens... Still 2 of the best open ice hitters in the game.
I feel he's on par with Kronwall...I'm certain he'll become a more consistent player when on a better team with a superior coaching staff, and no media hounds atop of him 24 hours a day.