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article imageMaple Leafs Phil Kessel's silence has Toronto media abuzz

By Marcus Hondro     Apr 30, 2013 in Sports
Toronto - The Toronto Maple Leafs are finally back in the postseason so you'll have to excuse the Toronto media if everything that happens in Leafland is put under a microscope. If every event, or non-event, is made out to be as important as a Justin Bieber tweet.
After all, the Toronto hockey media hasn't done this in a long time. In fact they haven't covered playoff hockey (or baseball, basketball or soccer, for that matter) since Justin Bieber was 11. That at least is the excuse for their getting off-the-charts loopy over Phil Kessel's ducking of them on Monday after the Leafs practice.
T.O. media checks Kessel from behind
Don't believe me T.O.'s fourth estate went a little overboard on all this? That they got in a near-frenzy over a player not joining them for his obligatory 3 minute mumble session? Here's just a sampling of the reaction to Kessel's decision to shower and go home, each sample from veteran and noted sports writers:
Columnist Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun: "Phil Kessel has managed the impossible - he’s pulled a disappearing act before the playoff series begins against the Boston Bruins. And in doing so, refusing to fulfill his contractual obligations and meet with the media, he wound up embarrassing team management in the process."
Damien Cox of the Toronto Star: "Just don’t sell me the poor Phil line. He doesn’t have a speech impediment. This is not the King’s Speech. He went to college. He has spoken many times over the years. Moreover, he is an uncommonly blessed athlete making incredible money to work a maximum of four hours a day because OTHERS who came before him did their part to sell the sport by doing their part."
Phil Kessel vs. Zdeno Chara: The real story
It is true that Kessel is contractually obligated to talk to the media and it is the playoffs and he's not on the Columbus Blue Jackets but the Toronto Maple Leafs and the opponent is the Boston Bruins, his former team he's scored but 3 goals against in 22 games. Given all that, it's understandable the media had a few questions, such as "Do you feel you've something to prove" and "Are you having nightmares with Zdeno Chara as the lead character?" and "What if Tyler Seguin outscores you in the series?"
But the notoriously shy Kessel wanted to keep focused on the job at hand and left the media scrums to his teammates on this day. Maybe a bit of a cop-out and definitely unwise, given the rules and the fact he'll be forced to talk today (Tuesday) and now have to answer: "What up? Are we that annoying a bunch?" (answer: "Actually, yes you ARE!").
But in the final analysis it doesn't matter because the real story is on the ice. It's the match-ups and it is the special teams, the goaltending, the experienced playoff team vs. the new kids on the block. Yes, Kessel's a top 10 ten points guy in the NHL and on a point-scoring tear that would rival Wayne Gretzky in the no butterfly save era (Kessel has gone 10-7-17 in his last 10 games) so he is a big deal, but a big deal on the ice, not in front of a microphone.
But you'll have to excuse the media in Leafland - they haven't done this for awhile.
More about Phil Kessel, toronto maple leafs playoffs boston bruins, leafs and bruins, toronto sports media, damien cox toronto star
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