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What Do You Think Of Phil Kessel?

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

If Phil Kessel were to reach the 40-goal mark in a year in which the Toronto Maple Leafs missed the playoffs, what would be the reaction?

Would you cheer? Would you boo? Would you even care?

It might be a tree-falls-in-the-forest type of question. Kessel, who set a career high by scoring his 37th goal in a 4-3 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday, has been one of the NHL’s top offensive players this season. And yet it is difficult to celebrate his breakout year when you try and digest all that has gone wrong with the 14th-place team in the last two months.

Had Toronto made the playoffs — had they played their way to home-ice advantage, something that was not unthinkable not that long ago — Kessel might have received Hart Trophy consideration.

continued

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

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Unfortunately for him as an American, in Toronto, many fans and the media will never celebrate his skill. God knows the orgy of excitement if it were, Tavares, Nugent Hopkins, or Darcy Tucker scoring half as many goals for the home team, but this is how things are in the North.

Posted by timbits on 04/02/12 at 02:03 PM ET

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Yeah, I’m sure the media would love Kessel if he were Canadian. 

They’d have loved the fact that Toronto spent two first-rounders to get a guy that Boston didn’t want to re-sign since, even though he scored 30+ goals, was seen to be a poor locker room presence.  If he were Canadian.

They’d have loved the fact that Toronto picked up a shooter who needs a good set-up man in order to play well while throwing away first rounders when what the team really needed was to rebuild.  If he were Canadian.

I’m sure they would loved that Toronto brought in a shooter whose production dropped for the first two years they had him.  If he were Canadian.

And I’m sure they would have loved picking up a high-priced shooter who didn’t in any way help them get to the playoffs.

Totally.

Posted by Garth on 04/02/12 at 02:32 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Toronto seems to view Kessel the same way some Detroit fans view Franzen:  It doesn’t matter how much he does, they’ll always say it should be more.

Posted by Primis on 04/02/12 at 02:39 PM ET

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I’m sure they would loved that Toronto brought in a shooter whose production dropped for the first two years they had him.  If he were Canadian

The fact is, he had a good season on a shitty team and he still gets no respect. You can blame him for the trade, but he has no control over that. Bottom line and you can pretend it doesn’t exist, many fans and media in Toronto will NEVER support him simply because he is American. The guy has his best season yet and nearly scores 40 goals and this is all he gets from the media.  The pinnacle for any Yank up north is what Kesler and Schneider get in Vancouver, modest acceptance.

Posted by timbits on 04/02/12 at 02:59 PM ET

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I’m pretty sure Garth thinks Jesus was Canadian….

Posted by From The Hockey Wastelands from Cleveland on 04/02/12 at 03:55 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

I have always wondered why people hate this guy so much.  Being a sniper who needs a set-up man shouldn’t be a knock against him.  Not being a playoff guy, when you’re young and on a bad team, shouldn’t be a knock.  The funny thing is though, that I am pretty sure all this hate comes out of his home state, arising because he went to the wrong school.  As a Canadian, college athletics make no sense to me, but when I read that crazy spiteful gripe from a St. Paul journalist, the picture started to become clear.
As much as the Canadian media likes to make snide remarks about all the Americans on the Leafs, I am sure that their predatory habits are really the problem.  I agree with Garth that being Canadian wouldn’t save him.  This little fishbowl is full of Pirannhas and if you are not a greaseball like Tucker or Domi, or some terribly flawed star like Sundin or Kaberle, then you can be sure to wake up to a daily dose of slander.  The better you perform, the higher the expectations.  I feel bad for some of the fans, but the media out there deserve this team.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 04/02/12 at 04:43 PM ET

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Kessel might have received Hart Trophy consideration

Is really the absurdity, the Toronto press just loves to build a guy up so that they can tear him down. Does anyone think Kessel is the type of player you build a franchise around or is really a team’s MVP? That has never been in his makeup and it is crazy to pretend otherwise. In fact, I don’t think his performance will ever really make much of an impact on the Leafs and the Leafs performance will never really affect his ability to put up points either.

Posted by hockey1919 from mid-atlantic on 04/02/12 at 04:50 PM ET

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Yea Kessel is a sniper and a skilled player. He’ll probably score 30-40 goals a season, but look at the other parts of his game. He doesn’t hit, he doesn’t play defense (career minus player). So he may rack up all kinds of individual awards and All-Star appearances but I wouldn’t want him leading my team. Maybe those parts of his game will get better over time, but right now he’s a one-dimensional player.

Thank you Kessel!

Posted by AdamBruinsFan on 04/02/12 at 06:25 PM ET

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Being a sniper who needs a set-up man shouldn’t be a knock against him.

I agree, I wonder how Stamkos would be treated in TO? Give Kessel St. Louis as a set up guy and he scores 50 plus a season too.

Posted by timbits on 04/02/12 at 06:42 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Exactly.  I love how you can take a really great player and just feed it to him for not being “complete”.  Most aren’t by the way.  There are playmakers, snipers, checkers, PP guys….etc.  Somehow a guy like Kovalchuk being so incredible just serves to highlight his deficiencies.  “He doesn’t back check!”  Hey, well no one said he was a god. 
Iginla sucks in shootouts, penalty kills, and faceoffs.  Shouldn’t there be a legion of gripers whining about his game?  Kessel is an offensive star and no one in Toronto should be disappointed that he isn’t “that and then some”.  The Yzermans of the game are extremely rare.  This meme where we slag stars that aren’t somehow perfect in all areas is quite a bit *#$%@&.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 04/02/12 at 06:56 PM ET

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Thanks for the honesty timbits.

Posted by 13 user names on 04/02/12 at 08:39 PM ET

Baroque's avatar

Kessel may not be a multi-dimensional player, but the dimension that he does have - scoring goals better than most players can - helps a ton to win games if a TEAM is built around him. It isn’t his fault that he has no support.

He’s doing the best he can to contribute to winning games, but no one player can do everything. Even if he is a goalie or a more complete player.

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 04/02/12 at 10:26 PM ET

goon's avatar

Kessel is a great offensive player that isn’t physical and doesn’t play defense, so he is one dimensional.

Posted by goon from Grand Forks, ND on 04/02/12 at 10:53 PM ET

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The pinnacle for any Yank up north is what Kesler and Schneider get in Vancouver, modest acceptance.

Posted by timbits on 04/02/12 at 12:59 PM ET

It is ridiculous to call the treatment of Kesler and Schneider “modest acceptance.”  Schneider is often cast as the saviour of the franchise over Luongo, seemingly every time Luongo has a bad game or two.  Kesler is beloved by Canucks fans and quite often by the media.  The Kesler lovefest during last year’s playoffs on CBC (yes, that same CBC that revs your anti-Canada apoplexy to full gear) would not stfu about Kesler, even after the Bruins were skating around with the Cup.  So please spare us the wah-wah-America re: two of the Canucks better players.

Posted by yayamo on 04/02/12 at 10:57 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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