To those who have criticized him for his repeated slashes on John Scott
, Phil Kessel
wonders what they would do if they were in his shoes, or skates, as it were.
"Put them in that situation and see what they do," Kessel said. "I think a lot of people who criticize that, let's see what they can do out there versus a guy like that. I think they'd be in a lot of trouble."
Kessel, of course, is referring to John Scott of the Buffalo Sabres who is just a tad smaller than the CN Tower at six-foot-eight and 270 pounds. Scott threatened to beat up Kessel during Sunday's pre-season game in Toronto and then dropped his gloves
, attacking the Maple Leafs' top scorer who only had one previous fight on his record, against a rather smallish Kris Russell.
Kessel responded by slashing Scott in the legs. When his teammates came to his aid, Kessel draw back and slashed Scott again and then jabbed him with his stick, all of which captured the attention of the NHL front office which slapped him with a three-game suspension
. Three pre-season games, that is. Start the debate whether that is punishment or a reward.
Kessel protected himself against a giant the best way he knew how, but admitted Wednesday morning he may have taken things a little too far.
"You know what, things happen so quick out there and when you slow it down, it makes things look worse, but I shouldn't have done the second whack," Kessel said. "But things happen so quickly out there that you react."
Kessel has been a bit of a stick-swinging loose cannon in the pre-season. In Toronto's first game against the Philadelphia Flyers he slashed at a couple of opponents including former Leaf Luke Schenn.
He said the Scott situation is different than anything else he has faced.
"What do I get, 10 penalties a year?" Kessel said. "I don't know what else I am supposed to do in a situation like that. Obviously I didn't handle it in the best way, but I don't know what else I was supposed to do. The second slash was uncalled for, but things happen quickly."NO HOLIDAY
The running joke is the NHL did Kessel a favour by suspending him for the final three pre-season games, but that does not mean he won't be working hard. Kessel now faces the dreaded 'bag skate' as he prepares for the start of the regular season Oct. 1 in Montreal.
Coach Randy Carlyle said Kessel will practice, "reeeally
"When he says that it'll probably be really hard so I'm not necessarily looking forward to his bag skates," Kessel joked.
Kessel's linemate Tyler Bozak
made light of the fact the suspended player will likely worked into the ground the next few days.
"I think he'd rather play the games than get bag-skated every day," Bozak said. "I'll probably be hanging out by the glass watching him skate the next few days."WRONG PLACE AT WRONG TIME
When the nonsense broke out the other night against Buffalo, Bozak was on the ice and found himself in the middle off the nuclear explosion. A skill player, Bozak found himself in unfamiliar waters.
"That stuff is going to happen throughout a season," Bozak said. "So you have to be ready for it."
Bozak has no issue with his pal, Kessel, swinging his stick at Scott.
"He had to protect himself," Bozak said. "And then he did pretty good in his fight, too. Hopefully he doesn't get in those situations too often because we need him on the ice as much as we can have him. Hopefully it's a one-and-done situation for him."LEAFS IDENTITY
So the Leafs' top scorer is to miss three pre-season games with a suspension and the new guy they brought in from New Jersey to supply goals, toughness and leadership, David Clarkson, is out for the first 10 regular-season games
with a suspension. What does this say about the Maple Leafs?
"I think it showed that everyone sticks up for each other and we're all in it together," Bozak said. "Obviously Clarkie thought with his heart there and not his head. Our best player was kind of in a tough situation there so I give [Clarkson] credit for what he did. He's not nearly as big as Scott and he went out there and did that.
"Good on him; it shows that he's going to support us and he just got here. It's good to see a guy like that show some heart."COACH'S DREAM COME TRUE
Carlyle said the situation where incumbent James Reimer
and newcomer Jonathan Bernier
are battling for the starting goaltender's job is a positive thing.
"It's a nice problem to have," Carlyle said. "Definitely. Both goaltenders have played hard and have made what you would call ten-bell stops and they have given us a chance in the games."
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