Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 03/15/12 at 12:31 AM ET
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Well, with the club having fallen into a deep crevice that already threatens to affect next year, as new coach Randy Carlyle is already finding his record stained by this troop of players, Burke has now fallen upon decision time for his signature player.
Fish or cut bait time. And cutting bait makes the most sense.
For starters, Kessel isn’t a Carlyle player and he’s not going to be. In this spectacular 18-game crash that began after that impressive Saturday night victory in Ottawa, Kessel has continued to produce numbers — seven goals and 11 assists — but hasn’t asserted himself in any way as a player who can carry or lead a struggling team.
He’s not to blame for the shocking state of this hockey club. No single player is. If there weren’t terms on contracts and a salary cap in place, the Leafs could just carry on with him indefinitely.
But the money matters complicate things. Kessel has two more seasons left on his current contract, after which he becomes an unrestricted free agent. So the clock is already ticking on the next commitment that will have to be made to him if he’s to remain a Leaf beyond his 26th birthday.
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