Toronto Maple Leafs Players During Practice

Video: Kessel says the way Toronto media treats Phaneuf is ’embarrassing’


That was Phil Kessel this morning, sticking up for his captain, Dion Phaneuf, by way of tearing a strip off the Toronto media.

“I’m disappointed today,” Kessel said. “I think the way the media treats Dion Phaneuf in this city is embarrassing. I think a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves. I’m embarrassed for them. I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated like that.”

Kessel didn’t provide specifics, saying only the treatment of Phaneuf “in general” was unfair.

“He’s our best defenseman,” said Kessel,” and you guys act like he’s not trying out there, and this and that. … Is it his fault we’re losing? No. Did he build this team? No. … He’s owed some apologies by some people. It’s disgusting the way people treat him.”

Some (or a lot) of Kessel’s frustration may have been related to a disparaging tweet that mistakenly went to air yesterday on TSN.

The network apologized shortly thereafter, but not before Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul tweeted, “TSN just a poor mans TMZ. Embarrassing.”

Lupul tweeted again today:

Related: Kessel mixes it up with reporter: ‘You think it’s my fault?’

Report: Panthers GM Tallon hasn’t talked to Leafs about Kessel

Phil Kessel

We could be watching Phil Kessel’s final days, weeks, or months in Toronto, but if he is on his way out, where will he go to? One destination that’s popped up recently is the Florida Panthers and it’s not hard to see why. Unlike the Maple Leafs, Florida is a team on the rise and Panthers GM Dale Tallon recently listed his greatest need as a “sniper or scorer with a little more speed on the wing” on The Fan 590.

All the same, Kessel might not be heading to Florida anytime soon, if at all.

“Florida general manager Dale Tallon and Toronto Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis have not had one specific conversation about Phil Kessel, and they did actually talk (Monday), but not about Kessel,” TSN’s Bob McKenzie said.

McKenzie characterized the Panthers’ interest in Kessel as general in the sense that they want a player like him and would pull the trigger under the right set of circumstances, but nothing’s likely to happen until the summer. Even then, they might not be a good fit for Toronto as the Panthers reportedly don’t want to break up their young core, which might kill any potential trade.

These rumors were also brought up when The Fan had Tallon on.

“Well I don’t want to pay any big fines. Phil Kessel’s a (heck) of a player, he can score a lot of goals, but I don’t know where that (the rumors) coming from,” Tallon said. He went on to say that he’s planning to stay the course when it comes to the trade deadline and even raised the possibility of being a seller despite the fact that the Panthers are still in the race for a playoff spot.

So perhaps nothing is imminent, but then again, nothing has been decided yet either. There’s still a week and a half before the deadline and we might be in for some surprises and blockbusters. After all, it certainly wouldn’t be the first major in-season trade to send shock waves through the league.

Kessel almost seems resigned to Toronto-less fate

Phil Kessel

Whether he likes dealing with the Toronto media or not, Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel can’t ignore the headlines any better than anyone else.

That probably explains the seemingly defeated comments Kessel made following Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the New York Islanders, as he almost seemed to shrug his shoulders – if sadly – at the prospect of being traded.

TSN’s Mark Masters has the quote: “I go where they want me. I love Toronto. If it’s not here it’s not here.”


It was a mixed bag of an effort for the Leafs in tonight’s loss against the Islanders; one might give them a seven on the “give-a-blank meter.” Still, Toronto lost its 21st of its last 25 games and there were sloppy moments like the opening goal:

When Kessel signed a contract extension with the Leafs, some were surprised that he was OK with signing on to continue the soap opera in Toronto. As it turns out, he might not be long for the market anyway.

Related: Are we seeing the last of Kessel in Toronto?

Are we seeing the last of Kessel in Toronto?

Phil Kessel

A lot of negative things get written and said about Phil Kessel.

He’s lazy. He’s soft. He doesn’t play defense. He doesn’t practice hard enough. He’s not a leader. He’s not good with the media. He’s inconsistent. He’s uncoachable. He’s unreliable. He’s weird.

None of those are good reasons to trade one of the best goal-scorers in the game.

The reasons to trade Kessel are he’s 27 years old and the Toronto Maple Leafs are nowhere close to being Stanley Cup contenders.

And it sounds like they finally recognize the second part.

According to a report in the Globe and Mail, club president Brendan Shanahan “and his lieutenants have now finally received a broad mandate from ownership to scorch as much earth as they see fit in order to return the Leafs to contention, according to two sources familiar with that meeting. It will mean a new philosophy on building slowly through the draft and long-term projects, rather than quick fixes via trades for established players. It will mean at least three more years of pain for fans, and as many as five.”

If true, it begs the questions — where will Kessel’s game be in five years?

Nobody can say for sure, but there’s a significant risk he won’t be anywhere near as productive as he is today. Scoring goals in the NHL is largely a 30-and-under game. Click here for proof. Then see how that list compares to five years ago. And if you’re still not convinced, see how Dany Heatley’s doing at 34.

Kessel should be traded to a team that’s contending now, for picks and prospects in return. Yes, he’s got a big cap hit, so if need be, take back a bad contract or two. What’s another one or two to go with the others?

The point shouldn’t be to win these next few years anyway. It should be to help Morgan Rielly develop into a Norris Trophy candidate, of which he’s got the potential, and to bring William Nylander into the fold.

Look, the Toronto Maple Leafs — the richest team in the NHL, for God’s sake — have only been to the playoffs once since 2004. They never undertook a proper rebuild when Brian Burke was hired to run things all the way back in 2008. They haven’t drafted well. They haven’t developed well.

It’s 2015 now, and it’s time to start over.

And this time, do it the right way.

‘It’s worked out for both teams in the past’: Kessel traded for Seguin (Video)

2015 NHL All-Star Weekend - Media Availability

Team Foligno shook up the world — well, the NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft world — on Friday night, orchestrating a trade to acquire Phil Kessel from Team Toews in exchange for Tyler Seguin.

“It’s worked out for both teams in the past,” Foligno said. “So we’re going to go with some history here.”

Foligno, of course, is referring to the trade that saw Kessel go to Toronto in 2009, a deal that saw Boston net the second overall pick at the 2010 NHL Entry Draft… which the Bruins used to select Seguin.

FYI, Alex Ovechkin is still on the board.

Related: Video: ‘Coachable’ Kessel goes from last pick to 2nd overall