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!