NHL: The Uneventful Return of Phil Kessel


By: Adam Pasternak

Last night the Pittsburgh Penguins visited the Toronto Maple Leafs, which meant Phil Kessel’s first game back in Toronto since he was traded this past offseason. Before the game, a reporter had asked him what type of reaction he expected from the Leafs crowd and he said he thought he would be booed. And unfortunately, he was. I had the pleasure (well, no Leaf game is really a pleasure) of attending the game and honestly, I do not get why people booed him. It wasn’t like Kessel asked out of Toronto, in fact he signed an 8-year extension to stay in Toronto. All he did was lead the Buds back to the playoffs, have multiple 30+ goal seasons, made a few all-star and Olympic teams and was the Leafs’ top scorer almost every year he was in Toronto. Over his years in “The Centre of the Hockey Universe” he became a fan favourite. Fans loved Phil, and that is why I don’t understand the booing. The only reason I could think of as to why someone would boo Kessel is because there really isn’t much else to do at Leaf games these days.

The Penguins easily beat the Leafs 4-0, even without Phil having a point. He was almost unnoticeable last night, only having one or two scoring chances. It was neat to see the first face-off when Phil and his old line-mate, JVR, lined up next to each other on the opening face-off. They jokingly slashed each others sticks and you could see it was all good and fun. Why couldn’t the fans be like Phil’s former teammates…happy to see him and catchup on all the good times they had. Phil brought hope back to Leafs nation when he first arrived and he even brought them to game 7 against the Bruins a few years ago. None of the Leafs’ success the past five years would have happened without Kessel.

After the game, Kris Letang sent out a sarcastic tweet calling out the Maple Leafs front office, telling them how great their tribute was to Phil. The fact that there was no acknowledgement of Kessel’s return made it seem as if Kessel had never even played for the leafs before. It was disrespectful and rude, in my opinion, and he didn’t deserve to be treated like he was last night. Yeah he was lazy and out of shape at times, but what about all those highlight reel goals? The hilarious memes? The time he was the last pick in the all-star draft? Why couldn’t Leaf fans show their appreciation for what he did for them? Again, he did not ask out of Toronto. He was traded, and sad to leave. I will never understand why fans booed him last night.

Do you think the fans were right to boo Kessel? Comment below!

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One Comment Add yours

  1. Gunner Jones says:

    Well said. Despite the leafs not making the playoffs for many years Phil brought a unique and scary aspect to the leafs line-up. Now a days players from other teams come to the ACC, playing against some farm team science experiments. These are players that have proven a little but are still a long way from being affective in the national hockey league. Booing was unfair to Kessel, however I don’t believe it was totally directed to Kessel rather than the management themselves. When looking back on the trade we really didn’t get much. We cleared cap-space, and basically got a year supply of pepsi for the locker room. In my opinion, the way they dealt by getting rid of Kessel wasn’t the nicest and most professional way they could have done it, because of what a great contribution he had for our team. Kessel lead in points in the 2014 Sochi olympics and clearly is one of the best players in the league. He deserved more than just boos. Leaf fans could have given a little more appreciation.


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