Ah, 1 July, and Free Agency. I did not notice much when I got up this morning.
But here I am and I check Yahoo Sports at 17:45 and I discover the Leafs have traded Phil Kessel, the most overrated Maple Leaf player of the last four decades. It was bad enough the Leaf’s were ripped off by the big bad Bruins when they ditched Kessel, and now the Leafs have pulled of the dirty trade, by trading Kessel to the Penguins.
Unless the Penquins think they have a miracle potion or a super motivational coach, they will find out what the Bruins and the Leafs have known, and that is that Phil Kessel is a terribly gifted goal scorer and is in the top five in the entire league when it comes to scoring, but he is neither a leader in the room, or on the ice, and in fact, those players, like Bozak who was his room mate, who played with him and traveled with him, all became worse over time.
Kessel is not a good practice player, or a role model for his team mates. He is a selfish and self centered person. Lots of commentators have said over the last few years that the Leafs would not be able to trade him, either because the contract he had was too large or that he was a risky proposition on a team and in the locker room. Will the Pens get the former Leaf and former Penguin, Gary Roberts to use his wizardry to transform Kessel’s diet, lifestyle and attitude? You can only lead a horse to water and cannot force him to drink. Everyone knows Kessel is in need of a major attitude change. We will see how the Pens handle him.
The Pittsburgh Penguins have acquired Phil Kessel from the Toronto Maple Leafs, along with Tyler Biggs and defenseman Tim Erixon in exchange for Kasperi Kapanen, Nick Spaling, Scott Harrington and a 2016 third-round draft pick previously acquired from New Jersey.
Only four players have more goals that Kessel’s 156 in 446 games. The idea that his setup man will now be either Sidney Crosby (most likely) or Evgeni Malkin is indeed a scary thought. The Penguins were 19th in 5-on-5 scoring last season; part of that was their system under Mike Johnston, but Kessel was second in the NHL in even-strength goals in 2013-4 with 29.
The only question now, is what will the Toronto sports media going to do with their favorite scapegoat. Now they will have to focus on the team and not scapegoats. We will all have to wait and see what the Leafs do with Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington and the draft pick. Interesting days ahead.