Phil Kessel is mad as hell with the Toronto media. And he's not going to take it anymore.
Questioned about the Toronto Maple Leafs' struggles, Kessel didn't hold back. "I think the way the way the media treats Dion [Phaneuf] in this city is embarrassing," he said.
The Leafs were in Florida to play the Panthers on Tuesday night. Reporters who were in the dressing room at the time for Kessel's comments say he wasn't even asked about Phaneuf. He clearly wanted to make a point.
"Is it his fault we're losing? No. Did he build this team? No," Kessel said. "It's not Dion Phaneuf. The stuff he takes, the crap he takes, the things people say, I'm just tired of it here. I think he's owed some apologies by some people. It's disgusting the way people treat him."
The star-right winger, who like Phaneuf is signed to a lucrative long-term contract, said there's an unfair amount of blame put on the captain for the Leafs' struggles.
"I think you guys unfairly criticize Dion," Kessel said after the team's morning skate at BB&T Center. "He's our best defenceman, and you guys act like he's not trying out there and this and that. It's embarrassing. I'm embarrassed for some people and things they've said about him."
TSN apologizes for tweet
Kessel's comments came on the same day that Phaneuf threatened TSN with legal action after the network aired an insinuating fan tweet about his wife Elisha Cuthbert and teammate Joffrey Lupul during Monday's NHL trade deadline coverage. TSN issued an on-air apology later in the day, which was also read on air by host James Duthie during the Leafs-Panthers broadcast.
"In spite of TSN's protocols to prevent unfounded and inappropriate tweets from making it to air, a false, and inappropriate tweet was allowed to run," TSN said in the statement. "There was no basis for the false allegation made in this tweet. TSN unreservedly apologizes to Joffrey Lupul, Dion Phaneuf and Elisha Cuthbert and regrets any embarrassment this unfortunate incident has caused to them."
Peter A. Gall, the lawyer representing Phaneuf, Cuthbert and Lupul, had sent a letter to TSN demanding that the network "issue a formal apology and pay a significant amount of damages to each of our clients for broadcasting a false and defamatory tweet during their trade deadline show."
TSN did not reference the demand for damages in its statement.
Gall also said he was "sending a similar letter to the author of the tweet, Mr. Anthony Adragna."
Gall threatened a lawsuit against both TSN and Adragna if they did not comply with the demands set out in the letters.
Adragna, who later deleted the offending tweet, did not immediately respond to a message on Twitter seeking comment. Earlier Tuesday he tweeted that his "words actually getting on air is out of my control."
Phaneuf did not speak to reporters following Kessel's pointed comments as part of his most heated interview during his Leafs tenure.
In early January, Kessel also showed his frustration with the media, specifically columnist Dave Feschuk.