After the disasters that have been the endings of the last two seasons, it’s understandable that the Toronto Maple Leafs have made a lot of changes with the roster of this team. Sure, a lot of fans were clamoring for the firing of head coach Randy Carlyle and maybe even general manager Dave Nonis.
As we now get to closer to the start of the 2014-15 season, the focus can now start shifting to what might happen this year. Now, some pessimists might say that the Leafs 18-wheeler is just heading for another cliff, Phil Kessel and others have a different opinion.
After taking part in Sportsnet’s Ball Hockey Challenge at Rexall Place as part of the Roger’s Cup Festivities, Kessel had this to say to the Canadian Press (via NHL.com), reflecting on last season.
“I think we had a good team… We were there last year. We had a bad stretch. We don’t have that stretch, we’re right in it.”
Kessel definitely speaks the truth. If the Leafs didn’t have that bad stretch, at best they would have been second in the Atlantic Division and at worst, they would have been one of the wildcard teams.
Kessel then shifted his focus towards next season.
“This year we made some good additions and I think we improved as a team, and we’re going to be ready to go… “We’ve got to be prepared for the long season, and we won’t go through one of those [skids] again.”
Think whatever you want about the Leafs’ additions this off-season. They may not be the sexiest of names coming to the Leafs but they should allow the Leafs to have a more balanced attack on offense and and a more defensively-minded defense.
The fact that it’s Kessel that’s saying this is pretty good for the Leafs. You expect him to be the Leafs’ leader on the scoreboard, not necessarily in the locker room. This quote shows that he will be, if he wasn’t already.