All Phil Kessel

July 3rd, 2015 | by torontosportsmedia
All Phil Kessel
sports and toronto


The drumbeats about a Phil Kessel trade were loud leading up to draft. Calgary? Pittsburgh?? In the end nothing happened and we waited. Things were quiet leading up to Free Agent day and then the bomb dropped. It’s been a while since we’ve gone round and round, but here is the Kessel wrap up:

I have to throw this in there as I found it stunning while listening to it live. David Naylor and Dave Feschuck were joined by Darren Dreger on TSN 1050 around 6:20 Monday night. Now, lets state some facts. It’s clear that leaks are few and far between with the Shanahan crew. Yes, DD does say numerous time that anything could happen, however as you will see, he throws a whole lot of cold water on Pittsburgh as a POSSIBLE destination:

TSN: where do things stand with TML and Phil Kessel?
DD: I think things are very quiet. Strong appetite to deal him. They are being very patient and methodical. A lot of people want to connect Phil Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins, I am not saying it will never happen however as we sit here tonight it seems unlikely and its not as hot as some would like it to be and as some have reported it to be and believed it to be. It’s never been that close. There are a lot of balls in the air here, a lot of pople need to be inovled. I checked with his agent about an hour ago and it’s very quiet and that all could change in a hurry. I think leafs feel that they need to be careful here, what if he has a level of pride and he comes back to the NHL and returns to pride and nets you 40+ what happens if that happens in Toronto and suddenly the rebuild maybe isn’t 5 years. If Kessel was in his 30’s I’d be singing a different tune. If he comes back ready to fly look out.

That was 620 on the eve before the trade!

Like I said above, yes, DD covered his a$$ by stating things could change, however he was definitive in saying that those who were suggesting a deal with Pittsburgh was close were wrong. The those that he was referring to were Nick Kypreos and Damien Cox. It was common knowledge that following the draft the Pittsburgh management team was huddling for several minutes talking about whether or not to make “The Kessel deal”. A Pens beat writer was on with Naylor after the draft and basically told TSN how close things were…

So that was before…

“Really, this was as much about illness and insomnia as anything else: The Leafs were sick and tired of Kessel.”

I had to try to grab a line from Steve Simmmons that hasn’t already been plastered all over the internet.

Haven’t read Simmons yet?????

This is the column that has earned him a place on ESPN:

From the ‘Wurst’ story on Kessel to the best….

Toronto won’t have Phil Kessel to kick around anymore, which means we might have to pitch in and get Dave Feschuk a ball or a can or Dion Phaneuf or something, since the annual target of his indignation is now a member of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

That By Greg Wyshynski / Puck Daddy it’s a must read on

Bruce Arthur took the lead at the Toronto Star with this story:

But a Kessel trade was never going to be a blockbuster, because by the time talks got serious, there was one bidder. Partly, it was the seven years left on Kessel’s deal at $8-million (U.S.) per year; his roll-out-of-bed-and-score-30-goals work ethic; his disastrous season last year; the Toronto mess. There were a small handful of teams who were interested. There was one who could, and would, get something done.

James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail didn’t waste any time in his piece:

Brendan Shanahan didn’t want Phil Kessel.

There’s really no other way to read into what happened on Canada Day than that. The Toronto Maple Leafs went into the two weeks after the Stanley Cup final if not hell-bent then at least incredibly determined to trade their top scorer.”

Guy Spurrier had this to say at the National Post:

Until this day, the teardown and rebuild of the Toronto Maple Leafs was still just a theory and a dream (or a nightmare, depending on your worldview).

Michael Traikos added this:

The Toronto Maple Leafs finally found Phil Kessel a centre.

Well, two of them, actually.

By sending Kessel to the Pittsburgh Penguins in a free-agency-trumping six-player trade, one of the most talented scorers in the National Hockey League will now be receiving passes from either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.”

The view from Pittsburgh:

Critics have questioned his conditioning.

They have questioned his commitment to playing a two-way game.

They have questioned how he fits into an NHL locker room.

But never, ever have there been questions about Phil Kessel’s ability to score goals.”

Apparently, Kessel is no dummy:

Oh, I’m just so excited, man. I really am. For it to be Pittsburgh … with everything that franchise has meant and two of the best players in the world there … I never would have thought I’d have the chance to play with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, to play on a team like the Penguins. It’s just amazing. I’m so pumped.

Chris Johnston filed this with

“For whatever reason, we had a lot of talented individuals on this team but as a group — the core group — it hadn’t worked,” said Shanahan. “This is about winning. Phil is certainly a very talented player, but we knew that changes had to come.”

Jonas Siegel seems to think the Leafs did as best as they could in his story:

Trading Phil Kessel was always going to be the Maple Leafs’ best chance at landing future assets to help push the franchise’s rebuilding plan forward.
The team took the plunge Wednesday; dealing its best and most productive player to Pittsburgh in the largest transaction of the Brendan Shanahan era, save for the hiring of head coach Mike Babcock last month. The Leafs got both picks and prospects in sending the soon-to-be 28-year-old Kessel to join Sidney Crosby and the Penguins.

David Naylor of TSN radio filed this video

Ken Campbell at The Hockey News had a good take:

The first thing fans of the Toronto Maple Leafs will have to get their heads around is that there’s a very good chance Phil Kessel will go to the Pittsburgh Penguins and score 40 goals a year. He might even score more. He could end up being wildly successful with the Penguins and might even win a Stanley Cup there. Kessel could end up being happier and more productive than he ever was in Toronto. And people will have to learn to be perfectly OK with that.

Scott Burnisde has a good story on

But — and this is a “but” that might well be written in bold capital letters with neon lights blinking around the edges — there are issues that will continue to dog Kessel in his new home, including his tepid finish last season when he scored just twice in his last 21 games.

I really like this one take on the Kessel trade from our friends at PPP:

“5. Woof.”

Exceptional as always, DGB wrote:

On the surface, the Maple Leafs didn’t need to trade Phil Kessel. The 27-year-old sniper has seven years left on his contract, so he wasn’t hitting the open market anytime soon. At an $8 million cap hit, he certainly wasn’t cheap, but he also wasn’t especially overpaid based on his production. And he was easily the team’s best player, and among the very best in the league when it comes to what he does best; only Alexander Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos, and Corey Perry have scored more goals over the last five years, and Kessel managed that while dragging Tyler Bozak around the ice as his center.

Over at MLHS Alec Brownscombe added this a day later:

“Even with all that in mind, this seems like a veteran GM gaining the clear edge on the Leafs for a few reasons.

There isn’t one piece of young talent with a measure of NHL proven-ness coming back. While former 22nd overall pick Kasperi Kapanen certainly has promise worth noting, it’s been reported that the Leafs got the fourth best defence prospect in the Penguins prospect pool, according to the Penguins internal ranking. That may be post-trade spin, but Harrington is certainly not ahead of Maatta or Pouliot.”

I think that about nails it…

In summary… I am surprised that DD was so definitive the night before free agency started. Kypreos led the way an hour before the deal got announced and no one seemed to notice. Sportsnet broke the story, however the analysis right after was better on TSN. I’d love to know what happened to Francois Beauchemin who seemed to be coming up next on TSN for a LONG time….

Re Simmons article: I think the article was the one thing it shouldn’t have been, personal. Truth be told Leaf fans don’t care how players treat the media. Clearly Simmons wasn’t a Kessel fan and his article reflected that. It was really personal. I read Simmons every Sunday. I’m pissed when he doesn’t write. I am a huge Kessel fan. He was the only player I really tuned into watch. I can tell you I ran into Kessel once. I was in Calgary at walked into a Starbucks and he was in line with me. I said hi to him, and bought him his coffee. He couldn’t have been nicer. He signed a reciept for my son and took a photo for him too. Basically, the guy scored 25+ goals a year playing with curly and larry. He will be missed and I hope he wins both an MVP and Stanley Cup in Pittsburgh.



  1. rob j says:

    Just a terrible and unnecessary deal for Tor. Feel bad for writers who want to say it but feel the need to hedge as to not become ‘Feschucked’. Noteworthy that players from Pitt targeted by the leafs refused to waive no-trade clauses. Guess they and most of the free agents don’t know they’re supposed to want to play for the Greatest Coach of All Time.

  2. Mitch says:

    Did you all see the free agent frenzy ratings? Tsn killed sportsnet again. Meaning, it doesn’t matter at all who breaks the story. Sportsnet were SO proud of themselves for being first to announce Kessel trade and yet nobody was watching them beat their own chests. Never understood the idea that breaking a trade was important as opposed to the analysis that comes afterwards.
    You nailed it when you said Simmons made it personal. Big pet peeve is when reporters take trades/signings personally. Jays broadcast team is the WORST at that. Why can’t they understand the athletes are not their friends/foe. They wouldn’t say hi if they ran into each other on the streets. Stop acting like its personal and just report the story.

  3. Claire A Fye says:

    I have no problem with this trade at all. I hope Kessel does well in Pittsburgh but Leaf fans have to know that even if he scores 50+ there it was never going to happen here. What got me was the immediate scorching of the Leafs return by Simmons and others. When it comes to prospects, beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. All scouts see things differently; that’s why we see surprises every draft year. So some scouts don’t like Kapanen and Harrington. Big deal. The return on this deal will be determined by how well the Leafs develop those 2 and the 2 draft picks. In the past that’s been a problem here but I’m willing to give this regime a chance. They seem to be doing things better than their predecessors so far.

  4. Curt says:

    Kessel got traded?

  5. Robert Leafs says:

    At about the same time DD was throwing cold water on the deal, PTS had Chris Johnson on saying it was likely to happen. The wires were getting crossed somewhere.

  6. Peter Ballantine says:

    Wow, Feschuck (the living, breathing piece of garbage) who argued to “TRADE KESSEL NOW!!” for the last 4 years got on the radio the other day screaming “WHY DID THEY TRADE KESSEL!!?? SHOULD HAVE KEPT HIM!!”. Just amazing!

    Toronto deserves to much better than these garbage clowns like Simmons, Naylor and Madani. Well, they got their wish now. They successfully drove out the one elite super star player the Leafs had. Just unreal.

    You know, none of this is surprising though. Go through the entire TSN1050 and especially the FAN590. From the hosts to the air, NONE of them are Leaf fans. They’re all stupid hab, oilers or bruins fans. All Leaf bashers. They don’t want to see the Leafs ACTUALLY be good? NO KIDDING!!

    If grew up listening to NY and BOS media. I’m sorry, but Toronto has the WORST sports media in the world. Unlike those cities who are critical but actually want to see the teams BE GOOD. These clowns just want them to fail. Disgusting and embarrassing T.O media. F them all.

  7. Not That Chris says:

    No surprise that Dreger isn’t getting “scoops” anymore. When TSN lost NHL rights, Dreger lost his pipeline of information from the league office with it. I thought both networks did a good job covering the day, although, besides the Kessel deal, the day was rather uneventful as the FA pool this year kind of sucked.

  8. rob j says:

    Whether the hosts have been in this market for 3 months or 3 decades, what in the world would have stopped them from becoming Leaf bashers?? Why would someone who supposedly has their pulse on the team as a media member have anything but disdain and cynicism for this franchise? It would be very entertaining radio if a host started giving the leafs the benefit of the doubt after the last 50 or so years. Even Stormin’ Norman eventually saw the light. It amazes me that listeners demand the media defend and cheer for this team

  9. GreyCountyMike says:

    Olbermann nails it! Sometimes it takes someone from outside this little town to point out just how ridiculous we are.

  10. Darren K Johnston says:

    Yikes Peter, are you going to be ok?

  11. Sam in Scarb says:

    Like I have said before Simmons used to be a MUST read…
    Now he has become a’ MUST I READ’ ??

  12. Alex says:

    So, MSM wants Leafs to fail, but are Jays cheerleaders?

  13. The Londoner says:

    Kessel thing overblown – he’ll do well in Pittsburgh, Leafs did OK considering there was no market.

    I wish instead to chime in on Blue Jays Talk. I usually rip Wilner but today I wish to say the fans that called in tonight were exceedingly dumb. One caller couldn’t grasp how wins and losses were award to pitchers. The next caller wanted to discuss trading Kevin Pillar…..ugh. A few callers later and there is a guy arguing the Donaldson trade was a mistake. Anyhow, just a real lack of any proper or meaningful baseball discussion.

    I so very rarely enjoy ever listening to fans phoning in. So few have anything worthwhile to say.

  14. Skatez says:

    @Peter Ballantine

    C’mon Peter, tell us how you really feel. 🙂

  15. Sam says:

    Good discussion with Bryant on Naylor. About the lakers not being able to sign FA’s despite all the advantages. Because players can max out elsewhere withou the grief. And how it’s bad for the league to have good players in small vs large markets.

  16. rob j says:

    Not defending the JaysTalk callers cause who would, but assigning wins is confounding, sometimes without rhyme or reason. In the Astros game this week a reliever blew a save but Houston took the lead in the bottom of the inning. He should have ‘earned’ the win as the pitcher of record. However the scorer gave the ‘W’ to the guy who pitched the ninth even though it was a save situation.

  17. rob j says:

    Must-read column by Shoalts on the legacy and future for McCown. Man, Bob is NOT impressed with Niagara vineyard owners!

  18. Blue Jay Fan says:


    Callers are idiots? Last night a caller called in telling Mike that he would rather not see a revolving door of pitchers(referring to doubron) and that he would rather see Norris back in Toronto.

    Mike response: Have you seen Norris pitch, Have you even seen Norris throw a single pitch.

    Caller: Yes I watch Bison games?

    Mike In disbelief responds: How?

    Caller: I can watch Bisons games over the internet.

    Mike: Oh that’s pretty cool I’ll give you that.

    And callers are idiots? how does a broadcaster not know that you can get all games let alone farm club games on the net.

    Last night Mike also took a shot at Greg Zaun because Zaun is hard on outfielders, and was particularly hard on Correara for the errors last night in the field.
    Mike Words. “l do know that Greg Zaun is hard on outfielders, but what I also know is Zaun has never played a day in the outfield”.

    Hey Wilner newsflash.

    1. You never played a day in the majors let alone the outfield

    2. I trust a cathers analysis of the game a lot more than I would trust yours. There are of catchers that are pretty insightful when it comes to the game, Mike Matheny, Joe Girardi. Mike Sotia. Oh ya and by the way theses guys won rigs as coaches. Plain and simple catchers know how to analyse a game.

  19. Alex says:

    That was a pretty big valentine to Bob by Shoalts.

  20. Curt says:

    Good article, though. It confirms what a lot of us suspected – that Bob is getting ready to move on.

  21. billyjoejimbob says:

    Ah, I don’t know. Sounds like a negotiation.

    Bob’s apparently very good at it.

  22. Darren K Johnston says:

    As long as they are paying him well, I don’t see McCown completely abandoning PTS, like what was reported, I’d see him cutting back even more than he already has (if it’s possible to work less than he already does), he has said a million times over, someone has to pay for all the crap his wife buys and there would be no easier way (legally) to make the cake than what he is already doing.

  23. Don River says:

    With Kessel leaving, I guess Feschuk has to rely on calling Reimer’s mom for stories.

  24. Bill Waters says:


    it’s time to let go. Bob is done. He will not be re-negotiating, this is not a bluff for a new contract, Bob will simply ride of into the sunset in or before 2018. The fan would be absolutely dumb if they relied on a near 70 year old, out of touch, character to be their franchise player for many more years. It’s over. Before long Tim and Sid will be covering that timeslot both on TV and Radio. The writing is clearly on the wall folks.

  25. rob j says:

    Bob and PTS still kill in the ratings and is a cheap hire at a million bucks as the shows brings in substantially more in revenue yet I feel I’m the only defender around here. Obviously he still has a massive audience on radio, TV, web and podcasts. Amazing how far from reality the bashers here are.

  26. rob j says:

    As a guy who is no fan of any of the local teams and is more and more disappointed with the level of discourse by Jays fans on twitter, I can never remember whether to love or hate the creepy dude who takes ‘fans’ calls after the games

  27. Curt says:

    I don’t think anyone is arguing that Bob doesn’t kill it in the ratings. Just that by his own admission and a lot of us on this site, he’s bored, disengaged and apparently ready to hang ’em up. Also, with regard to the ratings, I’d be curious to see how they look when Bob is away. I’m guessing there isn’t a big difference. As Brunt said in the article, listeners rarely change their presets. Old habbits…

  28. Darren K Johnston says:

    @robj “creepy dude who takes ‘fans’ calls ”
    That made me giggle, he is another one of those idiots that Rogers continues to employ that just baffles my mind (like Kevin Barker). I have MLB TV and to watch other teams broadcast teams in action really makes you shake your head at what Sportsnet throws at ya with the Jays.

  29. rob j says:

    It’s comical how many jays fans imitate his tone and even quote him verbatim on twitter, making them seem so knowledgeable and pro, even though they come off as, well…you know

  30. Mont in London Ont says:

    I too would like to know how the ratings for PTS are
    affected with no Bob – I suspect there is quite a drop –
    PTS with Blair and some others as host is too much like 100
    Huntley Street – And I enjoy the fact that when Bob is
    running the parade there is never any Wilner – That to
    me is worth a few ratings points-

  31. rob j says:

    Don’t know what’s more ridiculous: Simmons leading his Kessel hit piece with a hot dog anecdote or PPP investigating to show he actually lived 2.5km away from the vendor in question, so it’s probably not true.

  32. Rob In Aurora says:

    Anyone who thinks the Sportsnet “insiders” are even in the same league as tsn’s is wishful thinking. Go ahead and watch Sportsnet all you want, its plain awful TV, bit there is no accounting for tastes and preferences. I follow Kypreos on twitter (for fun, not info). He doesn’t even try any more. All we hear about from the sportsnet gang is the constant reminder that they have the NHL rights. (Who ever knew that paying so much also gave them the rights to produce such unwatchable TV coverage?)…

    I guess what Dreger mentioned about the Kessel deal was supposed to be n embarrassment to his abilities as a journalist? I don’t see it that way. All I know is that everyone at TSN is far superior to the collection oif misfits on Sportsnet..(follow John Shannon on twitter if you want some real comedy. How does he still have a job?)

  33. PBI says:

    I love that a guy with the screen name of “Blue Jay fan” called Ezequiel Carrera, “Correara”.

    I agree with you on Kessel, TSM, will definitely miss watching him every night. His numbers here were incredible considering the supporting cast and situation. Even last year, his supposed “struggles” resulted in 61 points. I can see him even flirting with 50 goals on Pittsburgh and I’ll be rooting for him.

  34. Jim from Abroad says:

    @rob j

    I am behind you. Bob is still in a league of his own, especially with Brunt on his side. I also enjoy the first hour when John Shannon co-hosts and Madani is doing a very, very good job too. Interesting to read, sort of between the lines, that he is not that keen on Ken Reid. Just like his listeners I suppose.

    I do hope Bob will not completely disappear from the radio after 2018. I would love for him to host a show on sports history including a cast of regular contributors.

  35. FMW says:

    I am 100% convinced that wilner has bad calls get on purpose to make him look smart in comparison. Same reason he retweets/ replies mostly to dumb tweets. How petty can this guy be?

    Let me go and say I like the Donaldson trade. But it’s not a total slam dunk as Lawrie is younger and young pitcher Graveman seems like the real deal. I still like the trade. But it’s not this slam dunk no debate that the AA apologists seem to suggest.

    There’s been a lot of that with the Jays media\Wilner. When the Marlies trade went down anybody “You had to be a fool and crazy to not think Jays won the deal” Now not so much. The Mets\Dickie deal, same thing “No debate, he’s a cy young winner. Of course the Jays won the deal” Many people don’t think that now.

    It’s not hindsight either. Especially the Mets deal, a lot of people had concerns. But they were shouted down and accused of being “negative”

  36. Curt says:

    Good points, FMW. Some media have also dismissed Graveman as a back of the rotation (at best) arm. I’m not so sure about that. I remember Brunt saying that Syndergaard was the least of the “Big Three” Blue Jays pitching prospects at the time of the Dickey deal. I don’t think anyone believes that now…

  37. The Londoner says:

    Working late last night, I had Fan590 on in the background. For a brief moment anyhow. I think I could stand a total of 3 minutes of it. It was CBS programming I believe, and the voice of the host sounded like a power drill. I honestly don’t understand how anyone could listen to that. Also, the conversation was very oriented towards Murica, with minimal relevance to me as a Canadian.

    I dunno, whatever, I guess my opinion means very little to the Fan590 people.:) I think they would be better off replaying content from during the day.

  38. Mike S says:

    I definitely prefer the TSN hockey on air personalities more than the Sportsnet hockey on air personalities………….however when it comes to the Kessel story it would be hard to deny that Sportsnet were more on top of it than TSN

    After the NHL draft Sportsnet (led by Chris Johnston) indicated that trade talks with Pittsburgh were heating up while TSN (led by Dreger) were doing their best to pour cold water on that story………..when the July 1 free agent television shows began Sportsnet talked extensively about the Kessel-to-Pittsburgh possibility………..Kypreos even mentioned Kapanen and Harrington as two guys that had a good chance of being included in the trade if it happened……….and then Sportsnet were first to report that Kessel had been traded to the Penguins

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