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article imageToronto Maple Leafs Phil Kessel plays 12:57, 0 points, minus 4

By Marcus Hondro     Feb 11, 2015 in Sports
Toronto Maple Leafs $10 million winger Phil Kessel had one of his toughest games as a Leaf on Tuesday against the New York Rangers. Kessel didn't record a point in 12:57 of ice-time and was on the ice for four of five Ranger goals.
He did have one shot.
The Leafs, and Kessel, mailed it in for the first 40 minutes and were outshot 31-16 and down 4-2. But while the team struggled back into it in the third, even tying the score 4-4 before losing 5-4, Kessel's game didn't improve. It wasn't all Kessel though and interim head coach Peter Horachek noted the lack of a work ethic.
“It was just effort,” Horachek said. “It was lethargic. It was no effort. If we were working and cheating to go somewhere I can say listen, we can do this. But it starts with the whole, you know, the give a s--- meter has to be higher. Can I say that here? I just did, right?"
The lack of work by Kessel brings to mind what two Leaf coaches removed, Ron Wilson, said about him. He's hot and cold, he can turn it on for two weeks then he tanks. Wilson said Kessel allows off-ice things to bother him, on-ice things, any thing, and it results in not always bringing it on game night.
There may be something particular stuck in Kessel's craw right now, like trade rumors, or it could be all the losing. The team has now lost 11 of 12....20 of 24? It's hard keeping track. Kessel ended up the game on the fourth line but his coach wasn't taking shots at him alone.
“We were awful," Horachek said when asked about Kessel. "I think we have to expect more out of his line, out of him, out of the rest of the players."
They should indeed be expecting more from Kessel. He is, after all, one of the highest-paid players in the game of hockey at $10 million this season and next, then $9 million for two seasons before it plummets to two seasons of 7 and two of 6 million.
Kessel has 21 goals and 47 points in 55 games this season. He is a -19.
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