Kukla's Korner Hockey
Entries with the tag: phil kessel
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
The Maple Leafs will add two more player statues to Legends Row on Saturday, working towards a total of nine to mark the club’s centennial in 2017.
One more space on the granite players bench will be kept open, in the hope someone emerges from the 21st century to warrant selection. The only possible candidate on the horizon has not yet seen the new monument, but if he keeps scoring at his current pace, Phil Kessel might one day make the sculptor’s cut.
With 156 goals in 41/2 years, he’s more than halfway to breaking into the top five in club history. And he’s just 26, with an eight-year contract still in its infancy.
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
Kessel will turn 27 in October, while Kane hits 26 in November. Which player would you consider a bigger gift to your team?
The case for Kane: In addition to his sublime skills, Kane loves the spotlight. The guy is a star, pure and simple, a fact exemplified by his Cup-winning goal in 2010 and his Conn Smythe performance in 2013. On the ice, his playmaking and vision are what really set Kane apart. Just seven NHLers have registered more total assists than Kane since he entered the league in 2007–08 and only three of those players—Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marty St. Louis—also have more goals. The Buffalo native may possess the softest hands on earth and when you combine that with the audacity to attempt ridiculous plays, you get things like his shootout winner against poor Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild. A born showman with talent to match; sometimes Kane makes it seem like things just aren’t fair.
The case for Kessel: It really starts during the 2011–12 campaign, when Kessel became the point-per-game player he’s been for the past three seasons. He also hasn’t missed a game since the beginning of the 2009–10 season, his first year with Toronto. That ability to avoid injury contributes to Kessel’s standing as one of the surest things in the league. With the Leafs the past few years, you’ve really never known what might happen from one moment to the next. But the one thing you could count on was Kessel showing up to the rink, skating really fast down the right side of the ice and firing deadly wrist shots to all parts of the net. In the past three seasons, the list of guys who’ve scored more total goals than “Phil the Thrill” is limited to Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Corey Perry....
The Score's Katie Flynn reports that Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke held a press conference regarding MLSE's sporting plans, and the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger caught some...outspoken...comments from Leiweke:
Leiweke says Shanahan will be patient, won't buckle to public pressure to make changes.
Leiweke says Kessel one of 10 best players in #NHL. "We've only seen a (bit) of how good he can be .. We need 2 build infastructure ard him"
The Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons always offers up a juicy Sunday notebook, but sometimes the best parts are one-liners. The thrusts of today's column involve the tiff between Jake Gardner and Randy Carlyle, Steve Yzerman's take on fighting and the Toronto Raptors' wooing of the 2016 NBA All-Star Game, but these quips piqued my interest:
Welcome to the Edmonton Oilers, Dallas Eakins. That 4-2 lead ended up as a 5-4 defeat on opening night. Old Oilers habits don’t die easily ... There is a tension around the Philadelphia Flyers that belies the early schedule. When they lost their home opener to the Leafs in a game they had no business losing, there was a sense around their dressing room and management staff that there is already deep concern about this group.
The $10 million Phil Kessel will be paid next season is the highest single-season salary in Leafs history. The previous high: Mats Sundin at $9 million. Kessel’s salary-cap hit comes in at $8 million beginning next season ... For those who keep track of such important matters, Kessel will be paid $40,650 per period next season. If he plays all 82 games, that is ... The day after the frightening George Parros incident in Montreal, the NHL sent out a memo to teams asking them to de-emphasize fighting on their arena scoreboards. The tone of the memo: Let’s try and tone things down, people
The 'Battle of Ontario' was rejoined tonight as the Maple Leafs played their home opener against the Ottawa Senators. As they have since 1931, the 48th Highlanders opened the season for the Leafs - but the team chose to come out to the stylings of Metallica, instead:
While some things may stay the same, at least one thing would change. For the first time in 18 years, the inter-Provincial rivalry will not include Daniel Alfredsson. It made for much less booing, but no less scoring.
Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: battle+of+ontario, cory+conacher, craig+anderson, daniel+alfredsson, dave+bolland, erik+karlsson, james+reimer, jamie+devane, jared+cowen, jason+spezza, joffrey+lupul, jonathan+bernier, kyle+turris, mason+raymond, morgan+reilly, nazem+kadri, patrick+wiercioch, phil+kessel, randy+carlyle
Welcome to the morning after! A recap of the games from the night before and quick hit hockey news.
In Case You Missed It
Toronto Maple Leafs at Philadelphia Flyers
After defeating the Montreal Canadiens last night the Maple Leafs traveled to Philadelphia to take on the Flyers.
Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: anaheim+ducks, buffalo+sabres, colorado+avalanche, detroit+red+wings, jokerit, patrick+roy, pavel+datsyuk, phil+kessel, philadelphia+flyers, tomas+vokoun, toronto+maples+leafs
Don Cherry's first Coach's Corner of the season focused upon:
1. John Scott's jumping of Phil Kessel;
And 2. Cherry's disdain for hybrid icing, suggesting that someone will get hurt come playoff time:
Cherry also weighed in on the Parros-Orr incident...
It looks like Phil Kessel's going to have a very good Tuesday or Wednesday, per TSN's Bob McKenzie and Darren Dreger:
Brendan Shanahan explains the suspension.
Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel has a disciplinary hearing scheduled for 4pm et Tuesday. The hearing will concern Kessel's participation in a brawl that erupted between the two Maple Leafs and the Buffalo Sabres Sunday night.
Forward John Scott dropped his gloves and went after Kessel just seconds after a fight between Leafs forward Jamie Devane and the Sabres' Corey Tropp.
Kessel would not drop his gloves to fight Scott, but instead swung his stick twice at Scott. His actions resulted in both slashing and fighting penalties.
The 25-year-old Kessel received a match penalty for his retaliation on Scott, a ruling imposed for deliberate attempt to injure another player. The NHL Rulebook states that any player given a match penalty "shall be automatically suspended from further competition" until a ruling is handed down by the Commissioner.
added 9/24/13 at 8:40am,
Sorry for the misleading headline, the meeting is by phone.
The proprietor and I were sort of hoping for a nice, quiet Sunday night on KK, and that seemed to be the case until about 9:30, when the Maple Leafs and Bruins engaged in massive amounts of dumb and/or exciting fighting. Hockeyfights.com posted what may be the longest and most context-setting clip of the bouts (and you will all be shocked, of course, to find out that John Scott was chirping at the Leafs' bench before he tried to fight Phil Kessel, David Clarkson hopped off the bench and five minutes of adventures in knuckle-punching took place)...
And while the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby and Toronto Star's Dave Feschuk did a fine job of capturing the Leafs' post-game reaction, and the Olean Times-Herald's Bill Hoppe told the Sabres' side of the story (not-so-shockingly, neither team chose to make the principals in instigation and jumping off the bench, respectively, available to the media), Sportsnet's Chris Johnston noted that the incredibly high likelihood that prized free agent signing David Clarkson will be suspended for ten games makes the Leafs' cheek-to-cheek dance with the salary cap quite complicated:
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- If Phil Kessel wants to continue playing with the Leafs — and all indications are he does — it shouldn’t be all that complicated getting him signed. Assuming he plays at his usual close to point-a-game level, Kessel will fall in somewhere below Corey Perry’s $8.6 million a year and probably close to the $8.2 million Ryan Getzlaf is earning with the Anaheim Ducks
- Six teams have started training camp over the salary cap: Detroit, Philadelphia, Boston, San Jose, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. All will have to be at cap or below when the season begins.
- It’s amazing, really. If you’re following training camps around the NHL, everybody is having a good camp, every team looks great and every player will bounce back from their off-season of a year ago.
more hockey talk...
from Damien Cox of The Spin,
It's fair to say the conversation around Phil Kessel changed somewhat with his performance during last spring's memorable playoff clash with Boston, and with Kessel apparently in improved physical shape this summer heading into a contract year, there's every chance he may finally become the consistently explosive player the Leafs (and Brian Burke) believed they were getting in 2009.
If that happens, or even if it doesn't, an eight-year deal in the $70 million range is in the offing, and all indications are that Kessel wants to stay in Toronto and that the Leafs are determined to keep him and pay him the huge money.
If that's the case, the Leafs need get this matter wrapped up before Christmas, rather than have it linger into next winter and close to the trade deadline.
Beyond that, Kessel's image in the city will be intriguing to watch, particularly with teammates like Joffrey Lupul and newly arrived David Clarkson focussed on making significant impacts on the local community.
more plus some non-NHL topics...
from Christopher L. Gasper of the Boston Globe,
Phil Kessel is a man of few words and, when it comes to facing his former team, a man of even fewer goals.
Give Kessel credit. The former Bruin spoke postgame on a night when his silence on the ice spoke volumes about his reputation as a faux franchise forward. Turned into white noise on skates, Kessel could only watch as the Bruins roared to a 4-1 victory over his Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals at TD Garden Wednesday night.
The Bruins don’t want to say it. They don’t have to. You can see it. They’re in Phil the Thrill’s head. It’s like when they sent him to Toronto in 2009 they put a hockey hex on him. He sees the Spoked-B sweaters and becomes an Empty Kessel.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Phil Kessel has managed the impossible — he’s pulled a disappearing act before the playoff series begins against the Boston Bruins.
And in doing so, refusing to fulfil his contractual obligations and meet with the media, he wound up embarrassing team management in the process.
“That’s the first I’ve heard of it,” said general manager Dave Nonis, when apparently informed of Kessel’s unwillingness to play meet the press on Monday afternoon and doing his best to explain why. Nonis was clearly unimpressed with Kessel’s silence.
“We’ll deal with it internally,” said Nonis, who added. “Our players will be available on a going forward basis.”
Nick Kypreos and Doug MacLean of Sportsnet discuss the Leafs trading Kessel. Anaheim, Detroit, Pittsburgh and Vancouver are listed as possible cities Kessel could land.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
In 239 games with the Leafs, Kessel has potted 99 goals. Basically, that averages out to 33 goals per season, a number only 18 NHL players (2 per cent) hit last season and only 13 (1.4 per cent) did the season before that.
Kessel does well what very few NHLers do well. So, even with warts, he has great value, particularly to a team strong enough that he can play in a supporting role, as a secondary scoring threat.
Nonis, if he is to succeed, must put his stamp on this team in relatively short order, and must articulate a new direction fans can readily understand and embrace.
He has the patience and foresight to do that. Whether the new GM has the support of the new ownership, well, nobody knows.
But trading Kessel is the likeliest first step to the needed reset.
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.
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.
from Jonas Siegel of TSN,
Soldiering out of the Verizon Center in Washington D.C. on Sunday evening, Phil Kessel was aghast at what had just transpired.
“I’m steaming,” he told TSN.ca in a one-on-one conversation from Sunrise on Monday afternoon. “Why wouldn’t you be steaming? We got shutout two games in a row.”
For the second time in as many nights, the Leafs failed to score, a 2-0 loss to the Capitals just the latest gloomy decision in a thundering crash from the postseason picture. An unseemly stretch of hockey which continues to this day has seen the hockey club lose 14 of the past 16 games (2-12-2), a slide that lacks any reasonable comprehension.
Kessel says he’s never seen a meltdown of this magnitude at any point in his career, a losing skid so enduring that nothing seems capable of slowing it down. He’s noticeably frustrated with the tide the team has taken, unable to fathom how a group on its way to the postseason for the first time since the lockout could just drop off the face of hockey in a matter of weeks.
Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night In Canada with the feature on Kessel.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Of all that has gone on in the first quarter of this sometimes brilliant, sometimes worrisome Maple Leafs season, the emergence of Phil Kessel as a possible National Hockey League star is the story that trumps all that isn’t Crosby.
His rise to this level — as leading goal scorer, leading point getter in the NHL — for as long as it lasts has been completely unexpected. The tendency is to believe this cannot continue, especially considering Kessel’s history as a streak scorer, an inconsistent performer, and a sometimes less than motivated athlete.
But he’s never had a streak that was this good, this long, this focused, this dominant. He’s hasn’t shown this kind of star potential, this kind of on-ice authority, since he was compared with Sidney Crosby as a teenager.
And the two have never been close since.
from Michael Rand of RandBall a the StarTribune,
The hockey world has been impatiently waiting for Kessel to make the jump to the next level for the better part of a decade, and it looks like he might have finally done it.
This is also why it just won’t happen. This cruel world has determined that Kessel is going to be one of those guys to whom real success and true greatness will just be out of reach and who will be a magnet for misfortune. We may be just moments – and certainly not more than a couple of weeks – away from Kessel suffering a broken collarbone or herniated disc or a moderate case of scurvy. His quest to be an elite scorer will be derailed. It cannot happen any other way.
I can’t say that I hold any serious ill will for Kessel, even though many regard him as something of a bridge between a very successful era of Minnesota hockey and a particularly pitiful era out of which the squad only now seems to be crawling. And when we look back in 2020 or sometime thereabouts, we’re all going to be surprised that Kessel had as good of an NHL career as he did. The numbers will be impressive and there will be some young whippersnappers who will make some noise about how he is a hall of famer.
Even though he has given up five goals to the Leafs tonight, Martin Brodeur still shows flashes of brilliance.
note 10:43pm, replaced original video with one of better quality.
NEW YORK (October 17, 2011)— Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessel, New York Islanders center John Tavares and Dallas Stars goaltender Kari Lehtonen have been named the NHL ‘Three Stars’ of the week.
Each Monday, the NHL will recognize three players who delivered the League’s top performances over the past week. Due to the mid-week start to the regular season Oct. 6, today’s selections were based on games from Thursday, Oct. 6 through Sunday, Oct. 16.
From James Mirtle at the Globe & Mail:
What’s rare is two sets of brothers, both on different teams, all coming together in the same game.
Tonight in Toronto, the Maple Leafs will dress Phil Kessel and Luke Schenn in order to get them into the preseason lineup against their brothers, Philadelphia Flyers prospects Blake Kessel and Brayden Schenn, a situation that’s creating a bit of a stir leading up to the game.
Leafs coach Ron Wilson said Schenn requested before the season started that he be allowed to play in this game.
“He was texting, calling me all day, to find out if I’d heard [if I was playing],” Luke Schenn said of his younger brother, who he faced once in the WHL four years ago when they were 18 and 16. “Even though it’s an exhibition game, there’s no question it’s a dream come true.”
More NHL brothers facing off tonight. From NHL.com:
When the Winnipeg Jets host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a split-squad game at 7 p.m., the Jets will have defenseman Zach Bogosian looking to shut down brother Aaron Bogosian, a forward for Columbus.
In that same Jackets-Jets game—the first one in Winnipeg in 15 years—brothers Kris and Ryan Russell will be playing together. Jonathan and David Toews will also share a bench as the Chicago Blackhawks visit the Edmonton Oilers.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
An Open Book Exam Question for Sunday morning: Who is the best player on the Maple Leafs and where he does he rank in the NHL? After a lot of shuffling of paper and counting, I came up with Phil Kessel as best player and his rank in the NHL somewhere between 45 and 60 ... Next question: Name the last Stanley Cup champion to be led by the 45th best player in the NHL?
a few more hockey notes…
From Douglas Flynn of NESN, via Tweets:
—Marchand admitted he made golf swing gesture to Toronto bench I spotted as he jawed with Leafs toward the end of the second period.
—Marchand on the golf swing: “Yeah, that was a little immature of me. I shouldn’t have done that.”
—I wasn’t the only one to spot Marchand’s swing. He heard about it between periods. “I got a little bit of an earful. It won’t happen again.”
—By the way, I asked Marchand about his own golf game, and he said handicap was 6 or 7. I’m sure he’s hoping not to work on it for a while.
At The Bruins Blog:
Marchand said that Phil Kessel popped him in the mouth and there should’ve been a penalty. Instead there was a razzing from the bench and then the gesture.[...]
“He’s been a good player for us,” said Julien. “And again, his emotions can sometimes be a positive, and sometimes you don’t want to cross the line. You certainly don’t like that when it happens, so it’s just a learning process.”
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
Phil Kessel tried to clear the air Monday morning after comments he made Sunday in practice where he was critical of his linemates, and indicated he and coach Ron Wilson do not speak.
Kessel said Sunday that “it’s not working here” — meaning his line with Tyler Bozak and Joey Crabb — but websites Monday morning interpreted “here” to mean he wanted a trade out of Toronto.
“I was talking about linemates, nothing else,” Kessel said.
“I love Toronto, I love this city and I love the fans and the team, I don’t want a trade or anything like that.”
added 2:57pm, from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Toronto Maple Leaf general manager Brian Burke met separately this morning with head coach Ron Wilson and winger Phil Kessel. His message was the same to the two individuals, who traded barbs through the media yesterday.
“I just told them to, ‘Sort it out with each other, get it cleared up,’” Burke said. “Because neither one of them is going anywhere. I am not trading the player. I am not firing the coach.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
After practice at the MasterCard Centre. Kessel took the unusual step of sitting in full equipment waiting for reporters at his stall to talk about his woes. Separation from his good pal Bozak is clearly gnawing at him.
“Maybe it’s just not working out here I guess, I can’t get anything going,” Kessel said. “Maybe it’s time for a change or something. I’m not sure if that (putting him with Boyce) is it. Who knows? I’m trying.”
When asked if he and Wilson have discussed the skid off the ice, Kessel replied “me and Ron don’t really talk…that’s all I have to say about that.”
Wilson replied that Kessel is not one to share many thoughts on scoring.
The intent of my trip to Raleigh for coverage of All-Star Weekend was simple: Get a feel for the experience from a professional perspective as well as monitor the pulse of the fans, chat up some players I don’t get to see all that often and also those I see on a regular basis in a different element, do some networking and, as Boss Man Paul continually reminded me to do throughout the weekend, have a little fun.
Looking back, that final component is exactly what I’ll remember most about the adventure and my guess is that most that attended All-Star Weekend – be they fans, players, media, league execs, sponsors or those belonging to some other miscellaneous category – would probably say the same thing.
Raleigh, as many others have opined before me, did a wonderful job as a host. The locals were as excited for the event as they were prepared, welcoming, happy and proud of their city, as well they should be. I’d never spent any significant time in these parts in the past but it will definitely be worth another stop in the future.
This being my first big league event, I had consulted with several people who have experienced something of this nature in the past in the weeks leading up to the trip and, while a few cautioned that an occasion of this magnitude could be slightly intimidating at times, I didn’t find that to be true at all for myself and I’m not sure many other first-timers would say otherwise. The vibe, from the moment I picked up my credentials on Friday morning, was light-hearted. At the same time, the entire operation throughout the weekend was first-class. Kudos to the NHL, the city of Raleigh and the Carolina Hurricanes for pulling everything off in fine fashion.
Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, NHL Business of Hockey, NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: cam+ward, eric+staal, henrik+lundqvist, jeremy+roenick, marc+staal, nhl+all-star+game, nhl+superskills, patrick+kane, phil+kessel, the+guardian+project, tim+thomas
Again, any other city than Toronto, this would be a non-issue.
I’d say some of the media is digging too deeply.
This tweet from Darren Dreger gives us Brian Burke’s thoughts on Kessel being picked last in the ASG Draft last night..
Brian Burke suggests last 5 players of the ASG draft should be drawn out of a hat. Doesn’t like negative focus on Kessel.
Now we know how Burke feels, or do we? Last night on Sportsnet…
Leaf Nation will tell you, Kessel does not deserve to represent Toronto in this weekend’s All Star festivities – Grabovski has been the best Leaf this season.
But Kessel will nonetheless appear as an almost obligatory representative for a Toronto Maple Leafs team that really does not have a player worthy of being an All Star.
What will sting the most, however, is this: Kessel is one of the favourites to be the player selected last overall.
Phil Kessel had a few firsts Tuesday night against the Hurricanes.
He had his first multi-goal game in the last 31 games. He had only his 4th multi-point game of the season, his first in the last 6 games. He also scored his first Powerplay Goal with a one-time slap shot of the season – in fact, it is one of a handful in his entire career, though the Leafs sure wouldn’t mind him doing it more often.
So despite the fact that Toronto lost on Tuesday, Leaf Nation has taken it in stride because the game can easily be a turning point for Kessel’s season.
But before Leaf fans await Kessel’s return to consistent form or rather wait for him to reach such heights for the first time in his career, analyzing Kessel’s numbers yields a different story.
The horse that is the comparison between Phil Kessel and He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named has been beaten to death. Except Tyler Seguin is the He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named and he has been named constantly.
But while Tyler Seguin’s name echoes across Toronto relentlessly, Taylor Hall’s does not.
Last year, the Toronto Maple Leafs finished with 74 points in the regular season, 12 points ahead of the Edmonton Oilers who finished with 62 points.
Were it not for the Kessel trade, however, the Maple Leafs would have been the undisputed worst team in the NHL last season.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
So why Kessel over Kovalchuk? That’s easy.
For starters, Kessel is only 23-years old compared to Kovalchuk, who is 27. Also, there is only four more years left on Kessel’s contract after this season compared to 14 more for Kovalchuk. There are kids just learning to skate who could be Kovalchuk’s teammates if he plays the entire duration of his contract.
Also, Kessel may not possess leadership qualities, but I have never heard him referred to as a dog. The same cannot be said for Kovalchuk who often seems disinterested, especially when he doesn’t have the puck.
That much was evident Thursday night. In a game that could be described as life or death for both clubs, even though it’s early in the season, Kessel thoroughly outplayed Kovalchuk.
Kovalchuk played 22:50 and had an assist to go with four shots on goal. However, he often seemed lethargic and there was no desperation in his game to get the Devils back into the contest when they fell behind. Kessel, on the other hand, played 20 minutes and finished with one goal—the game winner. He had six shots on goal and hit the goal post on another. He was engaged on virtually each and every of the 21 shifts he skated.
After Tyler Seguin of the Bruins scored last night, the faithful Bostonians started a Thank you Kessel chant, which you can watch below.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
Based on his performance thus far, Phil Kessel could be in contention for the Hart as MVP and the Maurice Richard Trophy which was introduced in 1999 and goes to the player (or players) who leads the NHL in goal-scoring.
With seven goals in eight games, Kessel is right in the thick of things where the Maurice Richard is concerned. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks are tied for the league lead in goals with eight apiece while Kessel, Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks and Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks trail by one with seven each. For what it’s worth, Kessel has a game in hand on Sedin and two on Hossa.
There are some players that get off to good starts in a season, but you just know they will eventually hit the wall. For instance, does anyone really expect Clarke MacArthur of the Leafs to continue scoring at nearly a goal-per-game pace? Even Sharp and Sedin have both managed career highs of 36 goals in their careers so it would be a shock if they were to challenge for 50 this season.
It is abundantly clear that if he remains healthy, Kessel will be the driving force behind the Maple Leafs’ offence. The 23-year-old Madison, WI, native is on pace for 72 goals this season.
Today’s salute to the performances of yesternight, honoring those who shined in leading their clubs to victory:
***Cheers to Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, who is showing marked improvement early this season and who was named first star in Tampa’s 5-4 win over the visiting Dallas Stars last night. Hedman managed a pair of assists and led all skaters in ice time, sparking an offensive rush on several occasions and, most importantly, playing adept defense in his own end. It is early, as we must continue to note for all who have had fast starts, but Hedman’s growth in year two will play a major factor in the Lightning’s fortunes. So far, with few hiccups, they must be pleased. (Note: They are. Coach Guy Boucher singled Hedman out with post-game praise after the Dallas game.)
Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, New York Islanders, San Jose Sharks, St. Louis Blues, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: cam+ward, dwayne+roloson, joe+thornton, john+tavares, justin+peters, marian+hossa, michael+neuvirth, patrick+sharp, phil+kessel, semyon+varlamov, victor+hedman
Today’s three cheers (a little late because, you know, a dad’s gotta take his two-year-old to Sesame Street Live every now and again) for the NHL’s top performers from a night ago:
***Cheers to Toronto’s Phil Kessel, whose overtime tally toppled the Rangers in New York, improving the Leafs’ stellar start to a perfect 4-0-0. The OT winner was Kessel’s second of the game and fourth of the season and the former Bruin also added an assist earlier in the contest. Clarke MacArthur also scored for Toronto - the impressive fifth goal of the year for the Buffalo/Atlanta castoff
Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Buffalo Sabres, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
Tags: anthony+stewart, clarke+macarthur, dustin+brown, phil+kessel, roberto+luongo
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
On a team historically bereft of big-time scorers, Phil Kessel believes he can achieve what only one Maple Leaf has been able to do in the last 15 seasons.
That’s topping the 40-goal mark.
“I think I can score 40. I could have had it last year if I’d have scored (consistently). I had a lot of chances, plus I missed quite a bit of games,” said the 22-year-old winger as he passed through town for the unveiling of Dion Phaneuf as Toronto’s captain and Tuesday’s opening of Real Sports Bar and Grill, MLSE’s playpen beside the Air Canada Centre.
“I’m going to improve on last year. Hopefully, I’m going to be a better hockey player,” Kessel continued.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• Every time I see Phil Kessel bent over at the bench sucking wind, I wonder: How do you build the Maple Leafs around a kid who doesn’t seem to be in game condition?
• This is why the surprising Colorado Avalanche will make the playoffs and the Phoenix Coyotes might not: Of Colorado’s final 32 games, 19 are at home. Of the Coyotes’ final 30 games, only 12 are at home.
• If I’m Vince McMahon I’m lining up John Tortorella and Larry Brooks for Monday Night Raw.
a few more hockey notes…
from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun,
Three games without a point - his worst stretch as Leaf - doesn’t mean a Kessel benching is imminent, but Leafs coach Ron Wilson would like to see more soon from the team’s designated sniper.
“I agree he’s a little off,” Wilson said following Tuesday’s practice at the Mastercard Centre. “He’s not skating, he looks like he’s a little tired. He’s played a lot of games ... that’s as far as I will go.”
Kessel was willing to take it a little further while trying to shake off one of his least memorable nights with his new team. A mediocre minus-four in his past four games, Kessel was held to just four non-threatening shots on goal in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the Sabres.
To add misery to the miserly attack, the winger was on the ice for Derek Roy’s game winner in overtime. Rather than help earn the valuable extra point, Kessel contributed to it going the other way.
“I just haven’t been playing as well as before,” Kessel said bluntly before the team hopped a flight to New York for Wednesday’s game against the Islanders.
“Lately, I just haven’t been the best. I haven’t been terrible, but I know I have a lot better in me. I have to pick it up.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Good thing for Phil Kessel that Boston sports fans don’t hold a grudge. Just ask Bill Buckner. Or Roger Clemens. Or Johnny Damon.
That Kessel will be booed Saturday night when the Toronto Maple Leafs visit the Bruins is a fait accompli. The question is, how many years will fans view him as Public Enemy No. 1.
His exit from Boston was a fascinating one, to be sure.
There have been different tales spun from different camps. No matter whom you believe, it’s hard to know for sure exactly what happened.
For example, one side will insist Kessel essentially asked for a trade during the summer, something the kid himself denied upon his arrival in Toronto. His agent, Wade Arnott of Newport Sports, also said a trade was never demanded.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Now that the all the hype and hoopla are over, here are 10 things we learned about Phil Kessel last night from his Maple Leafs debut—one for every shot he had on net.
1. In recent weeks there have been suggestions that the deal to bring Kessel to the Maple Leafs for two first-rounders and a second-round pick might be one of the worst in franchise history.
After Phil The Thrill’s electrifying performance last night, can we put a temporary gag order on such talk please? It is far too early to make such claims. And, after watching Kessel oozing his raw offensive skills last night, you can see why general manager Brian Burke paid such a heavy price to land this talented kid, who has yet to reach his 23rd birthday.
If the Leafs finish dead last and the Boston Bruins get the top overall selection in a deep 2010 draft, the criticism will be legit. But let’s at least give Kessel a chance to prove he’s worthy of Burke’s risky gamble.
from Jonas Siegel of am640,
Phil Kessel is taunting the possibility.
He taunts it with a no-look pass.
He taunts it with a bullet from the left circle.
He taunts it with his bursts of speed.
But make no mistake that for all the taunting possibilities, the Leafs would be simply foolish to rush Kessel back this soon.
from Damian Cox of the Spin at the Toronto Star,
Kessel, says Chiarelli, demanded a trade and wouldn’t negotiate a contract, so that was that. Indications are that was indeed the situation, and Kessel’s statement that he “never once” demanded a trade was really just semantics. Whether his agent made the demand or whether his unwillingness to talk contract was a passive aggressive strategy, it really doesn’t matter now.
Clearly, Julien’s coaching style was part of the issue, and so the most fascinating part of Kessel’s career as a Leaf when it begins in two months or so will be how he and Ron Wilson are able to forge a working relationship. Wilson’s a demanding coach, and he can be caustic and pointed in his public and private remarks when he feels it is warranted. San Jose officials make no bones about the fact they believe Wilson’s riding of Patrick Marleau retarded Marleau’s development.
Understand this. While Wilson and Burke are friends from years back, Burke now has more personal prestige invested in Kessel being successful than in Wilson, a coach Burke didn’t hire. The Leaf GM will hope Wilson and Kessel get along very well, but it’s a great deal more difficult to find top six forwards than head coaches.