Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel says slump wasn’t Ron Wilson’s fault

Former Leafs coach Ron Wilson didn’t have a lot of supporters left by the time he was fired, but Phil Kessel was one of them. After Kessel’s first practice with new bench boss Randy Carlyle, Kessel took the time to publicly defend Wilson.

“It’s not his fault we were losing games,” Kessel said. “We just weren’t doing the little things to win games. When you’re down 2-0 to start games and you lose by one goal, and stuff like that, it’s not his fault. It’s not his fault we went on that skid. It’s the players. We play the game out there and we didn’t get it done.”

Kessel went onto speak about the support Wilson gave him and mentioned several times that he liked his former coach. It sounds like this transition might be rough for Kessel, especially seeing as Carlyle might be looking for the star forward to do more defensively, even if it negatively affects Kessel’s offensive production.

“I don’t know,” Kessel said about the possibility of Carlyle requiring him to make such an adjustment. “It’s (only) been one day (since Carlyle took over) so we’ll see how it goes for the last 17 games and we’ll figure it out.”

Carlyle thinks that it’s possible for someone to excel offensively in his system while still being responsible without the puck. Carlyle has coached plenty of star players during career years, including Corey Perry, who scored a league-leading 50 goals last season.

Phil Kessel is easily intimidated, concludes anonymous group of players with fewer goals than Kessel

Phil Kessel
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Sports Illustrated released its latest incendiary player poll today. In January, SI asked for the most overrated player in the NHL and Dion Phaneuf’s name topped the list, subsequently infuriating Leafs GM Brian Burke. This time it’s the easiest all-star type to intimidate.

The results?

Phil Kessel, Maple Leafs RW 15%

The Sedin Twins, Canucks F’s 8%

Alexander Semin, Capitals LW 7%

Patrick Kane, Blackhawks C 3%

Ilya Kovalchuk, Devils LW 3%

In a related story, Burke just kicked another hole in the wall.

Anyway, the results are hardly surprising. And now we play the waiting game before finding out what the players, their teammates and coaches say about the poll.

It’s the circle of life.

Yup, Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel are going to be linemates

Tyler Seguin
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Seeing Phil Kessel drafted on to Zdeno Chara’s team for the All-Star Game opened up the possibility of seeing a lot of fan-tweaking possibilities. After all, seeing Maple Leafs and Bruins teamed up together means rivals having to play nicely. In the case of Tyler Seguin and Phil Kessel, the possibility of seeing them as linemates was sky high.

As it turns out, that’s just what we’re going to see because Claude Julien is a nice guy like that. Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com tells us about how the Phil Kessel trade gets to be in the spotlight for one more day and it’s all because Tyler Seguin was hoping it could happen.

So Claude Julien apparently heard Seguin’s request, liked it, and will go with the forward combination suggestion in Sunday’s game. After taking part in the shooting accuracy competition and shootout elimination on Saturday evening, Seguin confirmed he’ll be centering a line with Maple Leafs Kessel and Joffrey Lupul.

Seguin playing center to two Maple Leafs is a fun way for Julien to help troll the Leafs fan base at a game that’s as competitive as a coin flip. Julien says that the All-Star Game offers him the opportunity to take it easy as a coach and put guys together that wanted to play on the same line. That might not stop Bruins and Leafs fans from busting each other’s chops for a day though.

Best 10 NHL moments of the year: Phil Kessel, Mr. Irrelevant

phil kessel drafgt
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Merry Christmas, everyone. Since we can’t buy all our readers an iPad2, we’ve put together a list of the best 10 NHL moments of the past year that we’ll be rolling out on the site all day long.

Phil Kessel, Mr. Irrelevant

In an effort to spice up the 2011 All-Star Game, the NHL opted for a “fantasy” draft — a fantasy that turned into Phil Kessel’s nightmare. There he sat, awkwardly, as 35 players were selected ahead of him.

So, why is this on our “best moments” list?

For one, Kessel handled the ignominy like a champ.

“I don’t care one bit at all,” he said after the draft. “When I was a kid, I would never have dreamed of being here. Hopefully the fans in Toronto are happy to see me in the game. I’ll play well in the game for them.”

Two, he’s been on fire ever since. Kessel scored 30 points in 33 games following last year’s ASG and this season, he’s the NHL’s second-leading scorer with 41 points through 35 games.

Not bad for Mr. Irrelevant, huh?

Today marks fifth anniversary of Phil Kessel beating cancer

Phil Kessel; Mike Komisarek
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For whatever reason, Phil Kessel has been a divisive figure in the NHL when he should instead be a source of inspiration.

Just look at his rookie year: character issues were sited as he dropped a bit in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but that hurdle didn’t compare to what happened about a month into that 2006-07 season. Kessel was diagnosed with testicular cancer in November 2006, yet he only took about two weeks to return from the surgery that resulted.

Today marks the five-year anniversary of Kessel being cancer-free, as TSN’s Katherine Dolan covers in this video.

Kessel already has an assist on a Joffrey Lupul goal, pushing his points total to an astounding 37. Obviously, that battle with a scary disease is far behind him, but it makes his amazing season that much more impressive.