Mar 21, 2012, 11:06 AM EST
After seeing the Maple Leafs lose on home ice to the Islanders and hearing fans calling for Brian Burke to be fired during the game, you know that things are ugly in Toronto. After coming apart at the seams in the second half, the fans are out for blood after another playoff-free season.
As these situations tend to go, the best player takes most of the heat and Phil Kessel is not exempt from scrutiny. Jeff Blair of The Globe And Mail hammers on Kessel for not being a bigger figure with the media and seizing the spotlight.
He has no goaltender, his leading scorer is a milquetoast, Tom Thumb guy who shrinks even further in front of the cameras and nobody knows for certain whether his team captain has credibility in the dressing room.
Just a reminder here, Kessel has 36 goals and 40 assists on a team that’s now destined for the NHL draft lottery. That kind of production on a bad team should give you leeway to be Silent Bob if you want to be.
Meanwhile, Mike Brophy of Sportsnet wonders aloud if now is the time for the Leafs to trade Kessel.
Never mind what anybody tells you about Kessel having developed greater attention to his defensive play this season; that simply is not the case. He is still a floater who, more often than not comes back slowly looking for the first opportunity to make a quick pivot and head back up ice. In terms of work ethic, he will never be mistaken for Sidney Crosby.
Considering the lack of offensive weapons on the Leafs roster, asking Kessel to be yet another backchecking wizard seems counterproductive. This debate is eerily reminiscent of how Kessel and Claude Julien fell on hard times in Boston and that’s what helped spin Kessel into this quagmire of nonsense in Toronto.
Instead of worrying about what’s wrong with Phil Kessel, the Leafs should worry about how to surround him with better players to win games.
- Video: Kunitz collides with Rangers’ goalie Lundqvist in overtime 0
- Discuss: Penguins outlast Rangers in the shootout on NBCSN Rivalry Night 10
- Video: Jagr passes Yzerman for eighth on NHL goals list 7
- Wild put Harding on IR to undergo change in MS treatment 13
- Nonis: I’m not firing Carlyle 11
- Steen agrees to extension with Blues — three years, $17.4 million 17
- Engelland suspended five games for ‘reckless’ Abdelkader headshot 35
- The Chip ‘n’ Chase: So many bad contracts, coaches on the hot seat, the NHL in Vegas? and more! 23
- Caps’ Wilson to have hearing for Schenn hit 46
- Is the NHL getting closer to putting a team in Vegas? 34
- Updated: NHL suspends Thornton 15 games for Orpik attack (155)
- Janssen: Orpik should’ve fought Thornton, then ‘everything would have quieted down’ (123)
- Reports: Thornton will appeal 15-game suspension (107)
- Lucic addresses fight video, says he’s ‘disgusted and outraged’ by Vancouver (101)
- Cam Neely questions length of Thornton’s suspension (78)