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Advice For Phil Kessel

from Cathal Kelly of the Globe and Mail,

The relationship between the media and the athletes they cover is often framed in war metaphors. That’s apt. Though the two camps spend a lot of time in each other’s company, they are foreign to one another as people. “Dehumanized” isn’t too strong a word. The players are cartoon characters; the media, a faceless mob. We treat each other accordingly.

I thought about this as I watched Phil Kessel going j’accuse on the press before Tuesday’s game in Florida. He was surrounded by people he sees every day. However, he wasn’t talking to any of them. He was talking at them.

The presentation rendered the whole thing contrary to its motive: making his critics understand that he and his teammates are people and deserve to be treated as such. In essence: I don’t see you, but I demand that you see me. That he’s right is beside the point.

How did this toxic relationship develop – and why does it continue?

Sometimes, it has to do with the content of the reporting, or personal friction. There are feuds that kick off over nothing in a locker room and are resolved in print over decades. But it’s more fundamental than that.

There are players I’ve covered for years, talked to many times about all sorts of things. I think I know them, at least a little.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: phil+kessel


Alan's avatar

When you treat people like shit, it is not beyond the realm of expectation for them to snap back. Did you expect him to greet you with warm handshakes and an invitation for a drink?

Honestly, I don’t think any advice you give him will be taken positively.

Posted by Alan from Atlanta on 03/04/15 at 11:58 AM ET

Wings_in_NYC's avatar

Wow. Kessel sure likes his Tim Hortons. He’s retaining some serious water.

Posted by Wings_in_NYC on 03/04/15 at 12:16 PM ET

George Malik's avatar

I did find the whole, “How could Kessel do this to us? And beware, we remember and snap back!” crap from the Toronto media to be utterly silly. Dude was frustrated, he spouted off, it’s a two-way street, folks, deal with it and move on. The reaction to reminded us how petulant and poisonous the people covering the team really are.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 03/04/15 at 12:33 PM ET

Dakkster's avatar

The only city sports media worse than Philly’s is Toronto’s. They’re a goddamn disgrace. How they treat just about anyone is just purely unprofessional. They deserve worse accusations than the one from Kessel the other day.

Posted by Dakkster from Southern Sweden on 03/04/15 at 12:52 PM ET


I’m not particularly a fan of either Phaneuf or Kessel (though I don’t dislike either of them) but I can’t wait for them to excel with whatever teams they end up on, especially because the Leafs organization and the Toronto media have so devalued both of them.

Posted by Garth on 03/04/15 at 01:15 PM ET


@ Wings_in_NYC - I read somewhere that Kessel’s puffy appearance has something to do with medications he takes regarding his cancer issues a few years back. From watching the skills competition, it doesn’t affect his skating ability. Dude can fly.

Posted by mc keeper on 03/04/15 at 02:03 PM ET


I believe that this incident/situation, as a reflection of the notion of (working/healthy) “relationships” - in general terms - reaffirms the need for boundaries.

As the old adage goes: Sound fences make for good neighbors.

Were the Leafs’ organization (as an example) to lay a strictly-enforced set of ground rules, for (say) the Toronto media’s questions and behavior, that consisted of : “You shall go so far - And no further.” in order to limit the (possible) improprieties displayed by some of the media’s more aggressive and belligerent reporters and analysts, the media (as a whole) might be forced to shed so much of the casual disrespect it has developed through its’ unhealthy (perceived) intimacy with those in the locker-room and behind the bench.

That the media has been allowed to poke its’ nose into, ask and speculate about, all manner of private and (perhaps) inappropriate matters - and without consequence - has obviously emboldened some of its’ members to continually push the boundaries of decency and good taste to (what has seemingly become) a breaking-point.

It is through their continued silence that MLSE has tacitly sanctioned an escalating level of media familiarity and (subsequent) contempt.

Posted by icehound on 03/04/15 at 02:22 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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