“Me and the (coach) don’t really talk and that’s all I got to say about that.” Atta boy, Phil Kessel. Way to step up and move the project forward. So, in light of your unbelievable lack of professionalism, let’s pretend, for just a moment, that you and the heartless suit that paces behind the Leafs’ bench actually were talking. That you actually do have discourse once in a while. That you both want to improve the club. Here’s how that conversation might go…
Phil Kessel (knocking on Ron Wilson’s perpetually closed door): Hey coach, got a minute?
Ron Wilson: Sure, Phil, come on in. What’s up?
PK: Well, it’s more like ‘What’s down?’ My game. It sucks.
RW: We’ve noticed Phil. You haven’t scored a goal since January 11th in San Jose. Remember, the night of the great “Money on the Bulletin Board” fiasco? Maybe it’s a curse!
PK: Or maybe my curse is simply the fact that I give a half-a**ed effort every single night and anytime I do actually have a good game, it’s an anomaly.
RW: That is a possibility. But that seems strange since all the misguided Leafs’ fans, on the planet, think you are a “goal scorer.” Remember, Blair MacDonald scored almost 50 playing on Wayne Gretzky’s wing – a job Glen Sather said could be done by a fire hydrant.
PK: Are you implying that I’m a fire hydrant?
RW: No, because even a fire hydrant would have an element of toughness in its game.
PK: I’m finding it really challenging to play here in Toronto, coach. The glare from the spotlight is so intense and, remember, I didn’t ask for Burkie to trade for me. I’m just doing my best.
RW: If this is your best, you can pucker up and kiss your career goodbye. Has anyone, ever, anywhere, actually demanded that you step up your game? Or that you find a new, higher level on every single shift?
PK: Well, once, in Boston, I was benched during the Stanley Cup Playoffs. I came out flying after that.
RW: So are you saying I should bench you?
PK: It might help motivate me.
RW: What are you, five years old? This is the National Hockey League. How about learning to motivate yourself?
PK: But what is that motivation to improve, Ron? The rink is full every night. Those dunderheads who buy the tickets keep coming in droves. Aren’t we giving management what they want…a solid bottom line?
RW: Yes…but we have to appear to seek improvement. It’s all part of The-Leafs-walk-on-Water charade we’ve perpetuated for years in Toronto.
PK: I’ll tell ya what would help…linemates who could get me the puck. Those mouth-breathing tweeters who defend me seem to think that’s the big problem.
RW: Well, it might help. But you know what I see, Phil? I see a kid who’s been in this league for five long seasons and who has yet to figure out that any improvement in his game is going to come from within himself.
PK: Huh? You mean I can’t simply sulk and float my way through the last half of this hopeless Leafs’ season?
RW (under his breath): I think I know why Staal picked you last in the All-Star Draft.
PK: How can we get this back on the rails, Ron?
RW: You mean, how can we make you into the superstar that your titanic lack of will and childishness are keeping you from being?
RW: Well, I can keep mixing up the lines to satisfy your precious ego. Or I can stroke you in the media. Or I can have more patience with you than I have with any player in my entire, legendary NHL coaching career. Or…here’s a thought…you can realize that this is the NHL…and that you are a professional…and that you earn six million dollars playing a game…and that any improvement you bring to this dysfunctional program comes from within your heart and head.
PK: Ya, that seems like too much work. And I kinda thought that All-Star snub was funny. Did you notice I got ’em back by not registering a single point in a 21-goal game? Awesome! Thanks for the talk, coach. (Kessel then accidentally walks right into the door jam on the way out).