Monday, June 22, 2015
All this talk of where the Toronto Maple Leafs may ship forward Phil Kessel to is growing somewhat tiresome. I think the best thing about this whole ordeal is that the Maple Leafs are allegedly asking for a whole lot to come back in a deal. That is their prerogative and that's fine. It's their business, they can do whatever they want or ask for whatever they want for the players that they have on the block.
I don't necessarily like Kessel, he may not be "the guy" that can carry a franchise, but I will acknowledge his talent and I may agree with the asking price that the Leafs are looking for.
Kessel has been the victim of a brutal hockey market, something that new team President, Brendan Shanahan vows on changing and that begins and ends with the treatment of his players in the media. I don't think there is any better indication about how powerful the relentless media people can be, dealing both in a player's concentration and defining what a player's value could be on the market.
The Toronto media comes across like a nagging spouse. The quality of their questioning is one thing, one gawd awful steaming pile of horseshit, mostly, but relentless and we all know how exhausted a nagging spouse can be, thanks to the glorious age of television (right?). After a number of years of that, you're bound to fall out of love and your heart is just not in it.
I think Kessel's talent is still there, but he needs to find the love of the game again and it isn't going to be in Toronto.
Here in lies the second problem... his value. At 27 years old, Kessel still has time to put up some serious numbers in his career, but his greatest advertisers, the Toronto sports media, are constantly selling a lemon. You can't tell me that, despite his overall skill, you don't have some General Managers with ample cap space underneath the ceiling, aren't looking at what is being said on a regular basis and getting cold feet about making a real offer.
The price tag on the scoring winger has to be high for the Maple Leafs, they are going to be trading away a 40-goal scorer and I think that it is a certain possibility, given he heads to a team that has decent service down the middle or a defenseman that can spring him on the rush.
At some point before the beginning of the regular season, there is going to be a team that has enough space under the ceiling, wants to break up with a large contract of their own and feels that they could settle on a guy like Kessel and both teams, the Leafs and their potential suitor, each come away making sacrifices and no one is truly happy in the end. Except for Kessel, maybe.
Some would say that he's a motivated mover, who has scored 37 goals in a season (twice!) and has speed to burn. I may shy away about how testy he has been with the local hacks or how irritable he can get with a bunch of cameras in his face after a sizable loss to a non-playoff team, but that's just me.