It’s been a difficult season for the
Toronto Maple Leafs this year, and that’s putting it lightly. To see that for
yourself, all you have to do is take one look at the standings. You’ll find the
Leafs just 4 points ahead of the lowly Carolina Hurricanes for second last
place in the Eastern Conference.
a harsh reality to swallow for fans, management and the players themselves. The
2014-15 season started out with so much promise. All of the above seemed
optimistic at the team’s ability to rebound following a 2014 spring that saw
the team completely fall apart during the stretch drive, taking a nose dive
right out of the playoffs despite a very strong first half of the season.
is usually the case in Toronto when things aren’t going well, the axe has to
fall on someone and changes need to be made. In the offseason, that meant the
hiring of Brendan Shanahan as team president and analytics guru Kyle Dubas as
assistant general manager. During the season, it has meant the firing of head
coach Randy Carlyle, the trading of Cody Franson, Mike Santorelli and probably
others before the NHL’s March 2nd trade deadline.
idea that the Leafs should be cleaning house and that the organization is more
likely to get its hands on Connor McDavid than a playoff spot, like most people
thought the team would prior to the start of the season, still leaves one
question we thought wouldn’t come up…is it time for Phil Kessel to go?
emerged as a point-per-game player in the last couple of years and yet it seems
the perennial 30-goal scorer has a reputation for being very difficult to
coach, as per former Leafs bench boss Ron Wilson. He’s also evidently more
excited by the thought of working on his ping-pong game than he is about
practicing and on top of that, it’s obvious he’s not a fan of answering
questions from the media.
It’s those truths that have fans
irritated, the team losing and Phil likely thinking about the possibility of a
new beginning and greener pastures somewhere else, if only in the back of his
mind. Still, with a $64 million contract signed and sealed locking up all of
his prime years, it’s likely Kessel will still be a Maple Leaf when the clock
strikes 3pm on March 2nd.
the Leafs were to move him now, the winger’s services wouldn’t likely give the
team a fair return on investment. The better move would be to ship him in the
offseason as the calendar inches closer to the NHL draft. The current season is
already a write off and the rumour mill in Leaf land will be non-existent on
March 3rd while Canadian media focuses on the league’s playoff
races, leaving the Leafs to play the role of spoiler.
said, the questions around Kessel should not be if but rather when he’ll get
dealt. If you need proof as to why his departure from the city is imminent,
consider what happened to the player that was once upon a time traded for
Kessel, the Dallas Stars’ Tyler Seguin.
Like Kessel, Seguin fell out of favour
in Boston and needed a change of scenery. Things soured almost as quickly as
they apparently have for Kessel. Seguin signed a long-term deal with the Bruins
in the summer before he was moved to the Dallas Stars.
to today and Seguin has flourished into one of the game’s best players
alongside teammate Jamie Benn. He’ll likely finish his second straight season
in the state of Texas eclipsing both the 30-goal and point-per-game marks
respectively, leaving the hockey world to talk about his growth rather than his
would have to think in light of witnessing Seguin’s turn around, Kessel
realizes at this point that he could probably use a fresh start. Yes he may be
signed to an 8-year deal, but in the NHL 8 years is an eternity and it seems an
eternity is a little too long of a time span for fans, management and players in
That said, Kessel is still a Maple
Labels: Jack Choros