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Kessel laments ‘all-time low,’ Kadri fears suspension after ugly Leafs loss

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Whether Toronto Maple Leafs fans are hoping for their team to tank or not, Monday’s 4-1 loss to the Edmonton Oilers was gruesome in many different ways.

Things were especially bleak for Jonathan Bernier, as he allowed three goals on four shots before being mercifully pulled in the first period of the game. The reactions on Twitter and social media in general ranged from sardonic to sorrowful.

Phil Kessel seemed to be in the latter camp:

The game serves as another serious misstep for Nazem Kadri, who may find himself suspended by the league not that long after he was shelved by his team. Check out this hit he delivered on Matt Fraser:

As you can probably see, Kadri attempted to apologize to Fraser right after he delivered that check, which drew a two-minute illegal check to the head minor. After the game, he admitted that he’s concerned about getting suspended, as TSN’s Mark Masters reports.

Kadri eventually left the game after an altercation with defenseman Andrew Ference, but the damage was already done.

If tonight is any indication, the last month of the 2014-15 season could be a really rough one for the Maple Leafs.

Head coach Peter Horachek doesn’t want to hear any whining in that regard, though.

Leafs coach ‘applauds’ Kessel ‘standing up’ for Phaneuf

Edmonton Oilers v Toronto Maple Leafs
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Earlier this week, we all watched as Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel went off about how he perceived his team’s captain, Dion Phaneuf, is treated in the media.

The Leafs have been mired in struggle and controversy for months now. They’ve fallen to 25th overall in the league standings, and were only two points up on 27th place Carolina when the puck dropped on Friday’s NHL schedule. Kessel has scored just six times in his last 34 games.

This painful season for the Leafs — and their fans — is nearing an end.

Phaneuf has already said that what Kessel did meant a lot to him. Now, Leafs coach Peter Horachek has praised the recent off-ice actions of Kessel.

“As a team, all our players need to have each other’s backs,” Horachek told the Toronto Star. “They need to stand up for each other. That was his version of doing that, so I applaud him for that.”

Kessel’s defense ‘means a lot’ to Phaneuf

Toronto Maple Leafs Players During Practice
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It’s been an eventful couple days for Toronto Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf and much of it was likely trying for him to say the very least. Phaneuf, a man who said the Leafs trade talks “wears on you,” was a popular deadline day subject as reports surfaced that Detroit was trying to acquire his services.

At the same time, an inappropriate Tweet involving him made it onto the air on TSN, which led to the threat of a lawsuit. TSN has since unreservedly apologized.

That’s all in addition to the Toronto’s on-ice struggles since mid-December.

Without getting into specifics, Phil Kessel launched into a passionate defense of his captain in light of what Kessel feels has been an unfair treatment of Phaneuf by the media.

“It means a lot that Phil said that,” said Phaneuf, per TSN. “I have a lot of respect for Phil and the way that he deals with everything.”

Phaneuf insists that despite everything that has happened, he remains “extremely proud” to be a member of the Maple Leafs. He still might end up being traded over the summer though as the Maple Leafs look towards the future after enduring a string of annual collapses.

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

Toronto Maple Leafs Players During Practice
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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
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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.