Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports

Dave Feschuk takes shots at Phil Kessel


I make fun of the Toronto MSM (Mainstream Media to the late person) on Twitter because, well, they’re an easy target. But there are great writers who reside in that vacuum. Guys like Cam Charron, Bruce Arthur, Michael Grange, the guys at The Leafs Nation and Pension Plan Puppets all do a great job of not falling into lazy narratives whether it’s through analytics or storytelling, or a combination of both.

Unfortunately, Dave Feschuk is not one of them. Dave Feschuk wrote a piece for the Toronto Star yesterday concerning the viable chances of the Leafs winning anything of significance if Phil Kessel is their best player. Actually, why here from me when he can hear it from the horse’s mouth, err, I mean Toronto writer:

But the truth is it’s a hard question to answer. It’s the same thing as asking: Can the Leafs win anything of significance if their pudgy designated goal scorer happily sports multiple chins in a league dominated by gluten-free, goji-berry-favouring fitness nuts? Can the Leafs win if their best player, the fastest skater on the team when there’s a goal in his sights, becomes a slow-as-anything laggard when coach Randy Carlyle asks for extra effort near the not-so-merciful conclusion of a long practice?

First off, the idea of Phil Kessel being “pudgy” and “sporting multiple chins” no matter what age he is during this new deal is stupid. Let’s just get that out of the way. Also a stupid claim is Phil Kessel being just a “designated goal scorer”. Phil Kessel isn’t just a goal-scorer. Yes, that’s his most appealing attribute, but just designating Phil Kessel as a goal-scorer does a disservice to him being an all-world offensive player (something that coincidentally, I wrote about last week).

Phil Kessel during his four year stint in Toronto ranks 39th in first assists per hour, ahead of the likes of Anze Kopitar, John Tavares and Steven Stamkos. Hell, he ranks 17th in first assists during that span, ahead of the likes of Patrice Bergeron, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk. During the last two seasons alone, he ranks ninth in first assists, 23rd in first assists per hour, and 11th in assists. Let’s also put in this disclaimer: He has done all of this despite the fact he was on the ice with Tyler Bozak (a third-line centre) 74.86 per cent of the time!

But wait, there’s more. First off he contradicts himself here with the following sentences:

Nobody knows the answer to these questions. What we do know is this. Phil Kessel is a phenomenally gifted athlete who scores goals at a rate few NHL players can match.

OK I might be missing something, but didn’t he just ask this question?

Can the Leafs win anything of significance if their pudgy designated goal scorer happily sports multiple chins in a league dominated by gluten-free, goji-berry-favouring fitness nuts?

This lazy practice is something that’s very common, not just only in the Toronto MSM, but in the MSM in general. However, with the amount of sports writers that the Toronto sports scene carries, more and more get to creep in without any of the consequences. Arash Madani, an employee of your friend and mine, Rogers Sportsnet, had this to say concerning the Kessel deal on Twitter:

“Kessel is a last-to-arrive, first-to-leave guy at the #Leafs facility. Production and speed is there now. Will it at the end of this deal?”

Wait, there’s more!:

“Outside of New England and Wisconsin, will anyone in America even know of Phil Kessel’s contract extension?”

Oh I don’t know Arash, how about teams with cap space this summer? How about fans of those teams that wanted an all-world offensive player?  They might’ve cared.

This isn’t the first time that Dave Feschuk (bringing it back to him) has written a not-so-nice column on Phil Kessel. He’s openly campaigned for the Leafs to trade Kessel in the past. He’s written that Kessel could learn from Nazem Kadri when Kadri was on an unsustainable run of shooting percentage and puck luck. He’s used the words “uncommitted” and “middling interest in on-ice activities that don’t result in goals or assists” to describe the Kessel experience. Even with the 180-degree turn that Kessel’s perception has taken, it hasn’t stopped Dave Feschuk of contradicting himself (AGAIN!) when it concerns to #81:

And if he’s been plagued by accusations that he’s a perimeter-hugging, conditioning-be-damned softie who’s been known to have great Octobers followed by significantly less impressive Novembers through Aprils — well, Kessel certainly turned around that perception during last spring’s playoff series against his former team, the Boston Bruins.

 Why is he contradicting himself you may ask? Because he wrote this almost four years ago:

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.

That’s not even the best part of that article. This is:

The Leafs are also certain to be among the suitors of David Clarkson, the impending unrestricted free agent with the New Jersey Devils. That Clarkson is Toronto-born and media-savvy doesn’t matter as much that he plays the wing with a Bruins-worthy heaviness and has scored 30 goals in a season.

Turns outs the Leafs did sign David Clarkson, even though he’s a much more expensive version of Nikolai Kulemin, minus the skating ability. I personally can’t wait for the Leafs to buy out Clarkson’s deal with Dave writing about it being worst than the Darcy Tucker buyout.

There’s isn’t much more I have to say about this subject but the following:

Phil Kessel is awesome!

Tags: Phil Kessel Toronto Maple Leafs

  • Stan Smith

    It’s funny, putting down a writer for putting down Kessel and then making a comment like “HE’S HAS DONE ALL OF THIS DESPITE THE FACT THAT HE WAS ON THE ICE WITH TYLER BOZAK 74.86% OF THE TIME!” When are you guys going to get it through your heads that it may be because he is playing with Bozak, not despite of it. Kessel has had his best two seasons in the NHL playing primarily with Bozak. Lupul had his best season the season before last playing with Bozak. JVR had his best season last season playing primarily with, wait for it, you guessed it, Bozak! This all can’t be coincidence. Maybe it’s time to not only lay off the BOZAK SUCKS routine but to actually give him some credit!

    • Mohamed Mohamed

      Tyler Bozak is a decent center. He is. He’s above average on faceoffs
      and he’s OK on the penalty kill. THAT SCREAMS THIRD LINE CENTER! He’s
      brutal without Kessel statistically. He’s a much inferior player to
      Grabovski (WHO MAKES LESS than him).HES AVERAGE!

      • Stan Smith

        Two general managers and two coaches, and I, disagree with you. He is an unselfish player that makes others around him better. Too many media and bloggers spend too much time quoting useless numbers to back up their case that he is an inferior player but if that is so why does he make the players around him better?

        • Mohamed Mohamed
          • Stan Smith

            You guys are all geniuses. Nonis, Carlyle, Burke and Wilson are all idiots. While I might agree with you on Wilson, those are the guys that are, or were, getting paid to put a team on the ice. Out of all of the centres available they felt Bozak was the best guy to centre their number one line. Even when they tried other players for short periods of time they always went back to Bozak. Ever ask yourself why? Of course you have. That is why you come up with all these numbers, to prove your right and they are wrong. I think Carlyle is the best coach the leafs have had in years. I might not agree with every move he makes but I agree with his philosophy 100%.

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            I’ve got nothing more to say. You’re hopeless

          • Stan Smith

            Thanks Mohamed. LOL. I will take that as a compliment.

          • David House

            It’s clear at this point that you’re a troll.

          • Stan Smith

            Actually David you couldn’t be more wrong. I have been a leaf fan all my life. My statement here reflect my views of the Leafs completely.

          • Stan Smith

            Posting this following the Sens game. Did you guys see how much Bozak sucked tonight? LMAO

          • Tim Bayer

            Yeah I saw. He was terrible. Nice shootout goal, though.

          • Stan Smith

            I wasn’t even referring to the shootout goal. If you think he was terrible you really didn’t watch the game. It has to be either that or you really don’t know much about hockey and I’m assuming because you write about it you must know something about the game.

            He was the first forward back all night, he covered for pinching dmen at least a half dozen times. He did whiff on the one timer in the third but he had the perfect pick on JVR’s goal, something he does really well. There were some leafs that did play terrible (especially on defence) but he sure wasn’t one of them.

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            The day you actually become an objective person towards analytics and the limited value that Bozak brings is the day hell freezes over

          • Stan Smith

            Kind of like the day you get your nose out of the numbers and really start watching the games.

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            You have to watch the games to interpret stats properly you derp

          • Stan Smith

            Derp? Ouch. Okay then if you and Bayer thought Bozak had a terrible game Saturday night then that was one game you didn’t really watch.

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            Why do you assume that cause we think Tyler Bozak isn’t a top 6 forward, we automatically “don’t watch the games”? Look, I think you’re wrong in terms of Bozak’s value, but I don’t attack you in terms of “Not watching the games”. People who are “FANCY STATS” supporters watch games as well cause if we didn’t, it’d go on deaf ears

          • Stan Smith

            The only game I “attacked” anyone on not watching the games was this past Saturday’s game. I specifically watched Bozak as much as possible, which I realize that not being there live is not the best way to do it. In my opinion, for the reasons I stated earlier, he played a great game. Tim said he played terrible. I commented that if he thought Bozak played a terrible game he didn’t really watch the game. He seemed to be supported by you in that opinion so I stretched that comment to both of you for that particular game. We are never going to agree on Bozak’s importance to the team. I just happen to agree with the leaf’s take on him and you don’t, so lets leave it at that and move on to Gardiner and Orr. LOL

          • Tim Bayer

            Cool it on the name-calling.

        • Tim Bayer
          • Stan Smith

            The last two seasons the line centred by Bozak has been one of the leagues highest scoring lines. While not compiling points himself Bozak has to be doing something right. You guys think it is all about points, puck possession, corsi, fenwick etc. As long as the line is scoring and the leafs are winning why does it matter who is getting the points?

          • Tim Bayer

            Your only argument is “LOOK AT THE LINE! THEY’RE GOOD!” They’re good because Kessel, Lupul and JvR are good. The fact he hasn’t contributed despite playing with these players proves Bozak isn’t very good. And the line has also been one of the worst defensive lines in the league, and a big reason for that is Bozak.

          • Stan Smith

            Great first line. Completely wrong but a good line. In fact it’s almost as stupid as saying the other two guys on the line have lots of points and he doesn’t so he sucks.

            You are also as wrong as you can be in regards to the defensive aspects of the line. Most of the time Bozak is the only one being responsible defensively, and he can’t do it by himself. Plus if Bozak was as bad as you say he is why does he consistently play the most minutes of any forward, 5 on 5, PK and Powerplay? Oh wait, I forgot you think Carlyle is an idiot too.

          • Tim Bayer

            The line is bad defensively, and I think most of the blame goes on the centre for that because he has the most defensive responsibility. Anecdotally, I see him make a lot of mistakes in the defensive zone. The giveaway that directly led to the Senators’ fourth goal is an example. He struggled mightily against Spezza. And yes, I disagree with Randy Carlyle’s personnel decisions sometimes, as I’m sure you do as well.

          • Stan Smith

            Everyone makes mistakes. Ottawa’s #1 line only had the one goal. The rest of the damage was done by the Turris line. It looked like kind of a disconnect between Franson and Rielly on all three of their goals, While Kessel, under Carlyle, is learning to be more responsible defensively, his, and JVR’s, thinking is always going to be about offence. Bozak spends most of his time covering for them defensively. When you made the comment about the line being good a lot of it has to do with Chemistry. Bozak’s play allows Kessel to play like Kessel does. Kessel plays great with the puck. Bozak plays well without it.

        • David House