The Phil Kessel Bus-Tossing Database


Phil Kessel is awesome. The man who we described on here as a steal at eight million dollars per season now has nine goals and nine assists in just thirteen games. This is probably unsustainable, to say the least, but it appears likely that Kessel will have his third consecutive point-per-game season in blue and white, and his fifth at a 30+ goal pace. Forget about whether there’s a way to get more out of him for a second. We can all agree the Leafs should be very happy to have him, right? About that… here’s just a small sample of the Toronto Media over the past few years. 

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The Leafs seemed to have learned — finally — that blue-chip youngsters are not to be rushed. Similarly, surely they have learned through Tom Kurvers, the return of Wendel, Owen Nolan, Andrew Raycroft and Phil Kessel that the very definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and forecasting a different result.

At least when Kessel was acquired it could be imagined that one day he would be an untouchable. But it hasn’t happened, and worse, in the early days of the shortened 2012-13 season it appears he may be poised to struggle through his most difficult season in a Leaf uniform yet.

Kessel appears ill-conditioned, isolated, troubled or simply massively unlucky, or some combination of those.

Whatever the case, it is becoming difficult to imagine a scenario in which Kessel remains a Leaf beyond the end of this season.

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– Damien Cox, Toronto Star, "Maple Leafs must keep first pick, deal Phil Kessel" January 28th, 2013

"Somewhere, Leafs forward Phil Kessel is on a golf course saying: “Harder? That’s a joke, right?”"

"Why would Kessel be a smart chip to cash in? He’s a perimeter-hugging winger in a net-front league playing for a team that will need to give up something of value to land its long-sought No. 1 centre."

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– Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star, "Maple Leafs should trade Phil Kessel" June 7th, 2013

In not dealing Kessel sooner rather than later, the Leafs risk having a struggling, albeit important asset devalue into oblivion.

As the face of the franchise, which clearly was the intention given what the Leafs had to give up in return, it hasn’t panned out for Kessel.

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– Michael MacDonald,, "Will the Toronto Maple Leafs trade Phil Kessel?" January 30th, 2013

Burke can’t afford to insist that Kessel is a foundation player when he obviously is not, at least not for these Leafs, and he certainly can’t afford to make another huge financial commitment to him.

– Damien Cox, Toronto Star, "Toronto Maple Leafs need to turn page on Phil Kessel" March 14th, 2012

It is easy now, in the wake of another disastrous Maple Leafs season, to label the Phil Kessel trade preposterous.

It wasn’t so easy when the deal was made. Brian Burke made two giant miscalculations that have deemed the deal to failure.

– Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun, "It’s official: Kessel trade has turned into a disaster for Leafs" December 4th, 2010

Deals like this have happened before, but mostly in the pre-salary cap days. And still, if you look at the history, the team trading away Patrick Roy or Roberto Luongo or Pavel Bure (a Burke deal from Vancouver) were not equally compensated in deals. The history works against Columbus. That’s why the Leafs have to take a run at Nash, difficult as it may be. Even if it costs them depth or Kessel.

How long will it be before a player like this is available again?

– Steve Simmons, Toronto Sun, "Leafs on Nash’s trade list" February 16, 2012

“What would I give up for him? … I’m not giving up my best players for him, I can tell you that, and I’m not giving up my first-rounder, my best young player, if that’s what you are getting at,” he said.

“To be perfectly honest, and I don’t mean this in any way, shape or form as disrespect (to the Leafs), but I don’t think (Kessel) is a player most teams need on their roster.”

– Anonymous NHL GM via Mark Zwolinski, Toronto Star, "Phil Kessel’s trade value debated" March 15th, 2012

As an optimist, you’d like to think Kessel is capable of improving and evolving and dominating. As a realist, you know Kessel has only ever been described as being “driven” on the days he catches a lift to the rink with his roommate Bozie.

– Dave Feschuk, Toronto Star, "Promised land could be long way away if Kessel’s doing leading" October 2nd, 2013

Lastly, not quite a criticism, but….

The trade that sent Phil Kessel from the Boston Bruins to the Toronto Maple Leafs has been voted the best trade in Boston sports history, according to a recent NESN poll.

The Leafs acquired Phil Kessel in September 2009 in exchange for first-round picks in 2010 and 2011 and a second-round pick as well. Boston drafted Tyler Seguin with the 2010 pick and selected Dougie Hamilton in 2011.

That move beat out three other prominent trades in Boston sports history.

– Rogers Sportsnet, "Kessel trade voted Boston sports history’s best", February 5th, 2013

Got any other great quotes that have come out of the local media? Leave them in the comments.

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  • In all fairness though, look at some of the trash that you have quoted there. Simmons and Cox are both morons who are lukewarm to the Leafs on the best of days, and Boston people are too busy pleasuring themselves to Tom Brady to realize that trades shouldn’t be judged until all the pieces have either retired or left town.

  • That’s what journalists are unfortunately, they write about good things in a negative way to cause controversy. I doubt any of these writers would even have a job if they wrote an article titled “Kessel is the best thing that ever happened to the Leafs”!. But I think that he honestly is.

  • I find this a bit contrived. People like to call out the MSM when they are clearly wrong but I’m still waiting for the leafs to collapse like Cam promised last season. How come no one calls out these errors? I don’t see much difference between these two examples.

    • Yeah, I never hear about that.

      My response to the criticism is that in any situation, I’ll report as fairly as possible with the information at my disposal. I’ve been wrong about some things, I’ve been right about some things. I’m right more often than I am wrong, a few spectacular bouts of wrongness aside.

      I think the other thing I should mention is that I don’t make forecasts based off of vendettas, which a lot of the Toronto media people that bash Kessel do so because he doesn’t give them good quotes. That’s not leadership!

  • LonnyBohonos

    These retrospectives are always good for a smirk. I’m a big Kessel supporter, but obviously its easy for us to come out of the woodwork after the short but stellar stretch of hockey Phil has put together as of late.

    Of course, no knock on Phil, but as with many pure goal-scorers, he tends to be very streaky. Its not difficult to envision a time in the not-so-distant future where the Leafs struggle for a series of games, start to get overtaken in the standings,Phil is quiet on the score-board, and the Simmons’ of this world will (temporarily) get back on their high horses. They will point to Phil’s lack of leadership, an inability to exert his influence upon games when it *really* counts. Ironically, Simmons & Co. would probably point back at articles such as Jeffler’s in the same told-you-so fashion.

    Generally, though, I agree with Jeffler, and streaks aside, Phil is incredibly valuable to the Leafs. His ability to perform against Boston in the playoffs last year went a long ways to silencing many critics, I think, especially given that he had struggled to put up points against Boston prior to the playoffs. What I do worry about though, is a team that may come to rely too heavily upon the dynamism of the Kessel – JVR combo. If they go quiet at the wrong time, an early exit from the playoffs is only 4 games away.

    (yes I talked about playoffs)

  • LonnyBohonos

    Thank you for printing this! Dave Feschuk and Damien Cox are pure professional trolls.

    Will never forget Damien Cox (not even a baseball writer) wrote the “Does Jose Bautista do steroids” story based on only his own speculation.

    Honestly though, some Leafs bloggers have been similarly bad on Bozak, and at times Carlyle and Nonis. I understand some of the criticism is stat based, but it’s often been over the top and lacked context.

    Anyway, thanks for a good review Jeffler.

    • LonnyBohonos

      Just wanted to say I agree, and to expand on it a bit, a lot of it happens on this site and PPP and I feel like while some of the comments on Bozak are somewhat justified… Most of them aren’t. It’s like they’re sometimes grasping for straws to say anything negative. And I’m not at all against opinionated writers, but negativity for the sake of negativity sounds like a useless practice. I also disagree with this reflex there seems to be to immediatley oppose any choice managment makes, which could be due to the bad history we’ve had, but I think it’s time to get over that.

      Rant over. Jeffler I don’t include you in that evaluation and actually really enjoy your articles, keep up the good work!

  • AnthonyV

    I dont know why people think kessel is bad. He has got to be one of the, if not the best right winger in the NHL (ovi aint count). The kessel trade has got to be one of the best trades in franchise history.

  • AnthonyV

    No matter what Kessel does he is criticized which sucks. Remember when he was criticized for not scoring even though he was still getting points via assists and setting up plays? Then before that he was criticized for not having any play making abilities. Kessel can’t win. He could have a 100 point season and still be criticized for something.

  • AnthonyV

    I just love how Kessel’s playmaking ability is completely disregarded. If Backstrom or St. Louis have 2 goals 8 assists in 10 games, they are a playmakers with great vision, if Kessel has 2G 8A in ten its; Whats wrong with kessel, why is he not scoring, he’s in one of his LEGENDARY scoring slumps.

    The truth is, Kessel is basically the benchmark of consistency in a scoring forward. if he isn’t contributing in the goal department, he is still able to burn people with his speed and set up his team mates. He almost always looks dangerous out there and has been consistently improving every year he’s been in the league. people who call him a one trick pony are simply misguided and uninformed.