Toronto Maple Leafs: P.K. Subban Defends Phil Kessel


Toronto Maple Leafs: P.K. Subban Defends Phil Kessel

While there’s no denying Toronto Maple Leafs winger Phil Kessel has been struggling of late, I continue to be exasperated by the amount of criticism he’s getting from the local media. While I realise the 27-year old is getting paid handsomely, he doesn’t deserve this amount of grief, which in my opinion is almost tantamount to bullying.

More from Toronto Maple Leafs

The team is struggling as a whole, so why do the media appear to be concentrating most of their efforts on Kessel? Because he’s an easy target.

What’s frustrating about this is that the majority of the so-called experts in the media were lauding the Leafs decision to sign Kessel to a eight year, $64 million contract back in October, 2013. For all the criticism they’re giving the guy, maybe they should be getting condemned for how wrong they apparently were about him.

(Let’s put it like this – if any member of the media makes a mistake, they don’t have to stand before a hoard of reporters to explain themselves. Normally, there’s just some small one-paragraph column hidden away on page eight of the next day’s edition.)

No matter how bad the Madison, Wisconsin native is currently playing, he’s not the only one – the team as a whole, is terrible. Besides, last time I checked, Kessel was still leading the Leafs in points (47 in 57 games).

In any event, as Kessel deals with one of the tougher periods of his playing career, he’s receiving some support from the unlikeliest of sources – A Montreal Canadiens player.

Jan 2, 2015; Saint Paul, MN, USA; Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel (81) skates with the puck in the second period against the Minnesota Wild at Xcel Energy Center. The Minnesota Wild win 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports

As per a report from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, P.K. Subban leapt to the defence of the former Boston Bruins player: ” Phil’s a guy who cares about his team, about hockey, about the Toronto Maple Leafs.”

It should be noted that Subban and Kessel are friends off the ice, but it still sounds strange to hear someone from the Canadiens stick up for a Leafs player: “I know how much he cares about Toronto because in the summertime when we have dinner, we get into beaking matches about the team. I tell him Toronto is my city (it’s Subban’s hometown) and he’s like: ‘No, no, no, no, no!’

“He’s passionate about it. He’s a great player, he’s a world-class player, he’s among the top guys in the league for goals for the past, I don’t know, five, six, seven years?”

Subban also defended Kessel in respect of how shy he is around the media: “Phil is a personable guy if he knows you. If you put a microphone in his face and you’re asking him stupid questions, he’s not going to show that side of himself.

“He’s shy because of the stuff that (the media are) asking him. If he feels that there’s a motive behind the questions that you’re asking him, he’s not going to respond.”

Interestingly, given the chance to criticize the Toronto Media, Subban maintained his professionalism, although his final comments were telling: “Some of the things I’ve seen happen in Toronto I haven’t seen happen here (in Montreal) and I don’t think they would ever happen here.”

That pretty much sums things up for me. I’d tell the Toronto media to hang their heads in shame, but they don’t care.