Don Cherry

Don Cherry to Phil Kessel: ‘Forget about back-checking’

19 Comments

Phil Kessel is in a funk – just two goals in his last 14 games. The Toronto Maple Leafs are in a funk – shut out in two of their last three games prior to puck drop on Saturday.

But Don Cherry, during his Coach’s Corner segment, had some advice for Kessel, Toronto’s embattled star and the Leafs, too.

“Kessel, I would say, forget it coming back. Just score goals,” said Cherry. “He’s your magic guy with the hands. Let him go, forget about back-checking.”

Interesting strategy.

The last few weeks have been a tumultuous time for Kessel and the Leafs. They have only three wins since Dec. 16.

In addition to his slump, Kessel has been called out for being inconsistent and an alleged inability to be coached, called out again by Mike Milbury for being a “pain” in the, well, you-know-what, and involved in an awkward, heated exchange with a Toronto reporter following the firing of Randy Carlyle.

Video: Phil Kessel’s a ‘pain in the [blank],’ says Mike Milbury

HKN Kessel Brothers 20140928
32 Comments

Tell us how you really feel, Mike Milbury.

On Wednesday, during the broadcast of the Pittsburgh Penguins-Boston Bruins game on NBCSN, Milbury, a former player, coach and general manager in the National Hockey League, ripped into Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel, calling him a “pain” in the you-know-what.

This comes one day after the Leafs fired Randy Carlyle and Kessel later got into it with a reporter who asked if Toronto’s forward was difficult to coach, following the comments of another former Leafs coach, Ron Wilson.

PHT Morning Skate: Phil Kessel’s weird holiday outfit and Brent Burns’ love of pizza

philanddion
6 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Mats Sundin as a member of the Vancouver Canucks and four other things that maybe shouldn’t have happened. (The Hockey News)

Before you get too excited about Martin Brodeur’s first win with the St. Louis Blues … (Sportsnet)

Editor’s Note: Pro Hockey Talk’s partner FanDuel is hosting a one-day $15,000 Fantasy Hockey league for Monday’s NHL games. It’s just $2 to join and first prize is $1,400. Starts Monday at 7pm ET. Here’s the FanDuel link.

Here’s hoping Brent Burns begins a trend of people eating pizza while being interviewed. No, not just in hockey or sports … even in job interviews.

(The video itself is old, but his tendency to do so caused a stir. Really though, are you going to complain about seeing that?)

This goalie celebration is something else. (Puck Daddy)

Quite a throwback sight: Wayne Gretzky in a big fur coat. (Pucks, Guts & Glory)

There’s just … a lot to take in as far as Phil Kessel’s holiday-themed outfit goes, via Dion Phaneuf’s Instagram account. Is it more funny or disturbing?

source:

PHT Morning Skate: Phil Kessel says ‘Hello’

Phil Kessel
2 Comments

PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

Photo day in school was always an awkward day. That’s certainly the case for Team USA and, in particular, Phil Kessel. Show us your “Grr” face, big guy! (Puck Daddy, Pension Plan Puppets)

In Team Canada’s camp, Eric Duhatschek says everyone should stop worrying about their goaltending. (The Globe And Mail)

Meanwhile, Mike Babcock says the answer to who plays in goal will be clear in Sochi. Well we’d hope so by that point. (Calgary Sun)

Bobby Ryan’s summer of change has kept him busy, but he’s ready to take over in Ottawa. (Toronto Sun)

Andrew Ladd hopes he’s got what it takes to crack the Canadian roster. (Winnipeg Free Press)

The Capitals’ home-away-from-home practice rink in Virginia has made for a nice setting for Team USA. (CSNWashington.com)

Gustav Nyquist’s finesse makes him a great fit on the third line? Remember when that used to be the “Grind Line” in Detroit? (Detroit Free Press)

Apparently Phil Kessel is the Maple Leafs’ big problem

Phil Kessel
16 Comments

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.