Sun Rises. Kessel Criticised. Sun Sets. Repeat
A scant four weeks ago (less, technically), Phil Kessel, Toronto’s leading offensive player since the day he arrived in Ontario, was described as a ‘support player’ by TSN’s Darren Dreger.
The mind boggling relationship between the local mainstream media and the Wisconsin native continued this weekend, as Kessel rebuffed a reporters question following the Maple Leafs embarrassing loss to Buffalo on Saturday.
Naturally it was enough to once again question his leadership and his ability to win.
Once again it was a TSN reporter at the centre of the circus, with TSN radio host Jonas Siegel suffering the ‘ire’ of the Team USA winger:
The Leafs just lost 6-2 to Buffalo, arguable the worst team the NHL has seen in more than a decade, and Kessel was pissed.
This is not a new or unique feeling to any player who has just been part of a substandard, losing effort. But that doesn’t give Kessel any rope apparently. There are questions to be answered, and he must answer them…
There is some cause to say this is a two way street – it’s no secret Kessel is not the most comfortable in front of a camera even at the best of times – but to approach him after a 6-2 loss, given all the criticism he has taken from the Toronto media over the years, is akin to poking the bear.
But when he reacts, he lacks leadership qualities and respect apparently:
Again, this is a two way street, and the respect some seem to want from Kessel doesn’t necessarily go the other way.
Siegel put the boot in on TSN Radio today, lambasting Kessel’s attitude to the media and questioning the teams attitude toward Kessel’s PR etiquette:
A player continually criticised by the local media, who then doesn’t want to talk to said media? Weird that…
Whilst this isn’t some sort of advocacy of a free pass for Kessel when things don’t go well, the constant scrutiny he is under is bound to strain relations and further curtail his desire to talk.
Chances are this whole saga will only further alienate the 27-year old, keeping the never ending spiral trending downwards.
Many will claim Siegel and his peers are only doing their job, something that you can certainly accept – to a point.
Patrick Burke probably cut to the heart of the matter, pointing out how many in the media want to be able to ask questions under the guise of ‘this is my job’, but taking offence when the shoe is on the other foot.
It’s not hard to understand that Siegel is trying to provide content for the ravenous Maple Leafs fan base to consume – but when the answers he wants are not forthcoming, then another story is painted to fill the gap. One that furthers a seemingly endless stream of negative press surrounding Kessel.
Rather than being lauded as one of the best wingers in the NHL, Kessel is once again public enemy number one on a team that kind of needs someone to go that extra mile on the ice to get them back in to the post season.
But as Siegel implied, Tyler Bozak’s willingness to talks earns him a ‘pass’ sometimes – while all Phil Kessel has done is score 11 goals and 22 points in 18 games…
Still, if it’s that bad, there’s 29 other teams that would love to have a problem like Phil Kessel.