What should the Leafs do with Phil Kessel?
Sniper's temperament continues to be questioned
Former Maple Leafs bench boss Ron Wilson was the latest hockey man to question Toronto winger Phil Kessel’s day-to-day commitment on Tuesday, after the team dumped head coach Randy Carlyle.
Wilson said this about Kessel on TSN Radio:
“You can’t rely on Phil,” said Wilson. “Phil’s problem, and I think it’s pretty much how Phil’s been his whole career, is that he is two weeks on and two weeks off."
Hours after Carlyle’s dismissal, Kessel was asked by reporter Dave Feschuk if he was a difficult player to coach. A testy Kessel called Feschuk an “idiot.”
There is some history there. Feschuk, a Toronto Star columnist, reported back in September that rookie assistant coach Steve Spott told a coaches’ clinic Kessel didn't appreciate a new breakout play he had devised.
"I'm not doing it," Kessel said, according to one of the attendees at the clinic.
Just days before the report, outgoing MLSE CEO and president Tim Leiweke called out some unnamed Maple Leafs players to a Ryerson MBA class.
“There are players we have in our organization today whose numbers are off-the-chart good, and whose character is just terrible,” he said.
This brings us back to Kessel.
Can the new, permanent Toronto coach — let the Mike Babcock rumours begin — fix Kessel or is the temperamental sniper's attitude beyond repair?