The more I hear of this story the less sad that I become; one can say that I am over it. Good luck with going to the hockey black hole known as Toronto. You're really going to love the way the fans are going to treat you when you disappear for a few games and don't score any goals. Toronto fans are less forgiving than Boston fans and they are relentless on the message boards. You might want to talk to last year's whipping boy Jason Blake; the fans were also very persistent in their criticism of the former 40 goal scorer. You're making more money than Blake is so you're going to have higher expectations on our shoulder. I am going to say anything less than 20-30 goals is going to be looked at as failure by the Toronto fans.
In retrospect; Kessel was almost Gaborik like, first there was the demands of a bunch of money and then not wanting to play for the old team anymore. After the Kessel trade to Toronto became official it seemed like the same things keep began surfacing all over again, doesn't train very hard, he is quite... The kid is a great talent blessed with great offensive skills but I don't think calling him a prima donna is out of line. So maybe Gare Joyce wasn't that far off the mark during the 2006 entry draft combine? Maybe Jack Johnson aka "JMFJ" was right? Is Kessel a dirt bag or misunderstood.
I also said this in 2006; "I have nothing against Phil Kessel I think he has amazing talent and a huge upside if he grows up and realizes it's not all about Phil Kessel, because in the NHL, team goals come first, because it's about working as a team and worrying more about team goals you're your personal stats."
There are no give me's in life, but maybe Phil could learn from his buddy David Krecji who is more of a team player than you and will cash in on his next contract. Hockey is a team game and there is no "I" in team.
The Boston Bruins, it seems, were determined to give Phil Kessel a swift kick in the drawers on his way out of The Hub.
He didn't want to play in Boston. He demanded a trade. He didn't train hard enough. He wouldn't backcheck. He hadn't forgiven the team for benching him during the 2008 playoffs. Claude Julien was mean to him. He was greedy. He was untruthful in denying ever asking for an exit visa out of town.
These were some of the grenades launched at Kessel over the weekend from Boston management after the trade that sent him from the Bruins to the Maple Leafs for two first round picks and a second.
Clearly, this was a trade Boston GM Peter Chiarelli didn't want to make but was forced into making by circumstance and the unrelenting pressure of Leafs GM Brian Burke. Burke's public acknowledgment that he had an offer sheet waiting for Kessel put a chill on the Kessel market that Chiarelli couldn't thaw. Teams like Minnesota and Nashville had interest in the speedy winger but weren't about to give up prospects and picks and then not be guaranteed to get the player.
So, after the trade, Chiarelli had to present the Bruins case in as positive a light as possible after initially refusing to make any comment at all on the day of the deal. His No. 1 priority was to make a strong argument that this trade wasn't about the Bruins being cheap and not wanting to pay Kessel, an accusation that was lobbed at the team for years.
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.