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Your Daily Phil…Kessel, The Rise of the Maple Leafs and the NHLPA

September 20th, 2009 | by torontosportsmedia

So, if you haven’t had your Phil of Kessel yet, wait till tomorrow when talk radio gets to chime in on the deal. I suspect that when Landry and Stellick take to the air it will be all Kessel all the time. Unless of course Landry was at curing reality camp again this weekend. All the talking heads will be in full Kessel mode tomorrow. Should be interesting. Will he be on the morning show? Which Lunch show will he be on? Both????

Anyway, here are some cool things and thoughts for a Sunday:

The summary of why the Bruins dealt Kessel:

” All in all, Kessel and his agent orchestrated a clever, successful and lucrative free-agent departure. When it became clear to everyone that Kessel preferred to be in Toronto more than anywhere else, including his hometown of the last three seasons, Chiarelli had little option but to acquiesce.

Had Chiarelli not swapped Kessel to Toronto for a pair of first-round picks and a second-rounder, he likely would have been faced with committing $27 million to a kid with 66 career goals and not much grit in his tool kit.

And if Chiarelli chose not to match the presumed offer sheet, then the compensation, as spelled out by the collective bargaining agreement, would have been only first-, second-, and third-round draft picks. The potential for Brian Burke rolling out the offer sheet ultimately forced the deal, with the Leafs GM deftly, in concert with Kessel’s stated desires, forcing Chiarelli’s hand.

No other suitor stepped up with an offer, Chiarelli also confirmed, and that was because no club wanted to yield assets to Boston and then be positioned to suffer Burke’s roundhouse right of an offer sheet. Imagine if the Predators swapped Colin Wilson for Kessel one morning, only to see him that afternoon sign the Leafs’ offer sheet?

Just wasn’t going to happen, not without Kessel checking off on a sign-and-trade deal, and he wasn’t going to do that after determining over the summer that he wanted to wear Toronto’s blue and white.”

That from Kevin Paul Dupont in the Boston Globe.

Toronto Sun writer Mike Zeisberger has a good piece on where things may have gone awry in Boston:

” Phil Kessel “was pissed off.”

At the Boston Bruins.

At coach Claude Julien.

And at the embarrassment of being banished to the press box as a healthy scratch for three games in a post-season grudge match against the rival Montreal Canadiens.

If ever there was an example of the rocky relationship between the Bruins braintrust and Kessel, this was it.

It was the first round of the 2008 playoffs and Julien, having seen his Bruins blown out of the Bell Centre in the opening game by the high-flying Habs, decided to dump Kessel from the lineup.

Julien wanted more grit. He wanted better two-way play from his forwards. He was, in his own opinion, getting little of either from Kessel.

So, there was the young forward, sitting in the rafters, decked in a spiffy suit, feeling helpless as he watched his team muster just four goals during his three-game absence.

It gnawed away at his gut. How couldn’t it?

“It was tough sitting out,” Kessel admitted at the time. “It was very disappointing. It was a tough time for me.”

And maybe, just maybe, it was the beginning of the end, at least in terms of the marriage between Kessel and the Bruins.

Kessel responded by scoring twice in his return to the lineup. How’s that for making a statement?

Julien is one of the best bench bosses around, a no-nonsense guy who goes by the credo: “My way or the highway.”

But The Benching, as it is now known, was something Kessel never forgot, according to those close to the young sniper. ”

Ron Wilson isn’t going to give Kessel the warm and fuzzy’s either, but one has to believe that Brian Burke knows that.

The best article on the state of the Maple Leafs today is written by Damien Cox:

“But what Burke has indisputably achieved is a remarkable transformation of a team and an organization in slightly more than six months.

Last winter, the Leafs were an outfit adrift without personality, a club that had scored a bunch of goals early in the season, was terrible defensively, wasn’t ornery to play against and, depending on the game, might fill out half or more of its lineup with skilled European-born and trained players.

Today, the Leafs are destined to be one of the NHL’s goonier teams, a club dominated by North American talent and muscle, a team that surely has a distinct personality sculpted entirely by Burke.

He has changed the roster, added front office personnel, lured one of the game’s top goalie coaches and revamped the pro and amateur scouting staffs. A club that not that long ago seemed unattractive to players with other choices has in rapid succession outbid stiff competition for Mike Komisarek, François Beauchemin, Colton Orr, Christian Hanson, Tyler Bozak, netminder Jonas Gustavsson and, really, Kessel.

For each of these players there were at least three bidders and in some cases four times that many. But Burke got them all.

Suddenly, the Leafs are a destination, mostly because of Burke’s personal touch. He pursued Hanson and Bozak for months. He twice went to Sweden to chase Gustavsson. Kessel, while disputing Boston GM Peter Chiarelli’s assertion that he asked for a trade, clearly decided some time ago that being aggressively courted in Toronto was a great deal more enjoyable than being tolerated in Boston.”

As I asked the other night, has the tide turned in Toronto. We have been told for a long time that no one wants to come here. Suddenly players seem to be saying that they want to play here. Will the Leafs win the cup? Who the hell knows. Winning starts with an attitude and character. The malaise that was the old team, the Mats Sundin/Tie Domi country club atmosphere appears to be finally eradicated. The fact that guys like Cox and Simmons et. all are saying so publicly says a lot.

So with Kessel here, what else can we talk about? Well, the Coyotes decision isn’t newsworthy yet. Gretzky isn’t in camp and continues to get crucified for it. The lack of respect for the great one, whom I wasn’t a huge fan of before by the way, is nothing short of pathetic. Whether or not he is deserving of the money, the reality is the guy put the league on his back for YEARS. Ownership (backed by Bettman) hired the guy and guess what, he has fulfilled his end of the bargain. From where I am sitting, the guy who is arguably the greatest of all time is getting shafted. But no, that isn’t what I want to talk about. What I want to talk about it the NHLPA.

Forget the Coyotes, forget the Detroit Lions, forget the Toronto Blue Jays, there is no bigger joke in sports than the NHLPA. What a farce. What a total embarrassment for those who worked so hard for this union to be built. Those surrounded by the action should be embarrassed. Those talking from a far should be more so. Here is what sounds like has happened. A power play. Plain and simple, those who weren’t in control wanted it and got it. The way of the PA is equally as simple. They had Eagleson, we know the mess he left. As a result they brought in the hardest of hardliners, Bob Goodenow. As a result of his actions they appointed Ted Saskin. As a result of his actions they brought in Kelly. For every action there is a reaction. The constitution is too soft, so they go off the charts heavy. It’s too heavy, they go easy. It’s too easy…… How dumb are these guys? Seriously?

The press coverage over the last week would be enough to embarrass me into quitting the PA if I could. Consider this:

“According to a report from Montreal radio station CKAC – the same station that correctly broke the news and details of Roberto Luongo’s contract extension last month – former Detroit defenceman Chris Chelios is planning on speaking with other players about the possibility of bringing Kelly back, claiming that he had been misinformed. This comes not quite three weeks after Kelly was knifed in a 10-hour, all-night meeting in Chicago, against all common sense.”

Misinformed? Are you kidding me?? You are the guy who is responsible for the guy being hired. Then, you lead the effort to have him fired in the middle of the night AND NOW YOU WERE MISINFORMED????? Who admits that? Who leads a witch hunt on bad info?? Oops we fired you by mistake??? I mean somewhere Kelly’s lawyer has to be loving this.

“I definitely want to know how things happened,” Crosby told ESPN. “I am part of the union like every other player and I think we all deserve a good explanation.”

UMMMMMMMMMMMM, NO. You don’t deserve an explanation Sidney. You see, the majority of your membership doesn’t care about the issues really. Guys like you don’t take an active role in the PA, you pawn that responsibility off on the Matt Stajan’s of the world. If you cared, you would be your team rep. You would know what you signed off on when you ratified your constitution. You would be going to meetings, making calls and be up on the issue BEFORE this shit happened. Don’t cry about spilled milk after the fact! You put the current executive in place, mostly out of apathy. You, and I don’t mean to pick on Crosby, and your union brothers got exactly what you deserved.

“”You’re a player rep and the players are relying on their reps to do their job,” Stajan said. “If we could have all 750 players there, great, but that’s hard to do. We felt a change was needed and we made it.

“You had a leader (Kelly) who came under an office review,” Stajan added. “There was proof there (the office) was not functioning well, and that’s on the leader. In any business, that’s what can happen in situations like that (reviews). I don’t know why anything else is coming out now, some guys are speculating, but that’s what we decided and it was unanimous.”

As much as I loathe Matt Stajan, I can tell you this, I have a ton of respect for that position. He’s the guy who went to the meetings. He’s the rep. He’s the guy that got the job because no one else wanted it. I’d be pissed if I were him too. He got stuck doing a job and now after he did what he was asked to do people are pissed???? Give me a break.

“Indeed, the Block Report not only solved nothing, it exacerbated the mistrust and contempt that factions of the PA had for each other following its collective bargaining collapse. Union leaders — excuse the oxymoron — then produced a constitution ratified by an ignorant membership that neutered the position of executive director.”

Look, if the membership is/was ignorant it has only one place to look…in the mirror. Every player who voted in favor of the constitution has an agent. Every player could have read the damn thing. Every player, however was sick and tired of the mess. Every player wanted to get back to playing hockey. So they passed the buck. The allowed others to deal with their problems. Now they are bitching????

” Neither, however, does the Players’ Association, now apparently spoken for by people such as Matt Stajan and Andrew Ference, the latter the Boston player rep who last year famously suggested the wrong players were making too much money. Sidney Crosby isn’t the only one who wants answers. Players across the league have been left in the dark. The internal union Web site is widely disparaged by membership as more a source of propaganda than information. Players are asking for answers. Maybe this time they’ll get some. Maybe this time they’ll get answers they never received from the Block Report. Maybe this time they will be entrusted with details of their history so that they don’t repeat it.”

Sorry Larry, I am not buying it. The players have only themselves to blame for guys like Stajan and Ference be leaders. Any player who is pissed about the leadership I am sure could have been their team rep. Do you think there was one team with a battle for the rep position?? Not a chance. These guys couldn’t have cared less. They made their beds and now they are lying in them. To say otherwise is insulting.

It’s almost as insulting to hear a guy like Roenick talk about the positions on the board were held by young uneducated kids. As opposed to the harvard grad degree carrying vets like you JR??? Funny how when asked if he would be interested in playing a role on the PA Roenick took about 3 tenths of a second to say no. All the talking heads in the union have a ton to say now. Where were they before?

“”We have had numerous discussions with our clients and other players around the league regarding the dismissal of Paul Kelly as executive director of the NHLPA,” agents J.P. Barry and Pat Brisson of CAA Sports said in a statement.

“Some of the things we have learned about the process are very troubling to us. We are encouraging each of our clients to educate themselves with union matters so they can understand how these types of decisions are reached. We believe that a strong and unified voice is necessary. In order for that to happen, the majority of players must be heard.”

And there, sports fans is what you really need to know. What, or who is in large part behind this?? Agents. Rest assured that the comments by Sidney Crosby were at the request of his agents. Again, not a slam against Crosby, but rather a hunch. There has always been infighting at the top about power and who is the driving force behind the PA. Many an agent would love to be driving that bus. Who is really behind the curtain???? One day we will learn. Is it really Eric Lindros? Is it Bonnie Lindros????? Is it Chelios?? Rest assured, whomever is pulling the strings is doing so not for the good of the players, certainly not for the good of the game. No, there is only one force that could cause this, selfish greed.

Quotes on the PA came from here, here and here

By the way, who’s your favorite famous Phil?

Collins?
Donahue?
Esposito?
Bourque?
Hartman?
Jackson?
Lesh?
Dr.

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7 Comments

  1. mike says:

    ”You’re a player rep and the players are relying on their reps to do their job,” Stajan said. “If we could have all 750 players there, great, but that’s hard to do. We felt a change was needed and we made it”

    this is a terrible argument. leadership votes happen all the time in various sectors (including the NHLPA), it’s not that hard. now, if your aim is to quickly get rid of a guy you don’t like then in the middle of the night then sure … getting all 750 members involved would make that hard.

    whenever one of the reps gets questioned on why they didn’t take the issue to the general player population they always reply with “we didn’t have to, as per the constitution.” when asked if they thought it was a good idea to make a leadership change without player input, they reply with “that decision is up to us, as per the constitution.” this looks straightforwardly like a case of hubris. if you’re Matt Stajan this makes sense, since your on-ice contributions are not earning you much respect.

    NHL/NHLPA labour relations will be studied in business classes for decades. it’s almost as if they decided to have an incompetence competition.

  2. Fluffy says:

    How does the signing bonus get allocated? I would think it’s up front but the way the Star’s article lays it out makes it seem like it’s spread over the duration of the deal.

  3. lt67 says:

    I don’t know what the NHLPA constitution says but…the logic here seems quite straight forward and would suggest that on an issue as significant as leadership dismissal; at the very least, the player reps would be given / would want to take a week to get the views of their constituants….So straight forward….the mess is really amazing to me.

    Some famous Maple Leaf Phil’s (ok, only 1 of note):
    Phil Oreskovic
    Phil Housley
    Phil Maloney
    Phil Samis
    Phil Stein

    Don’t forget the world of tennis…a great Phil name…Mark “Phil”ippoussis.

  4. Kohma says:

    Fantastic post.

    Can’t recall the last time that anyone lauded Damien Cox for having the “best article” anywhere. I think that many of the sports writers in Toronto are warming to the Leafs again because they see the change in attitude and the increase in potential. Truthfully they’d be lambasted regardless of their opinion, because you can’t please everyone all the time.

    Which leads me nicely to the state of the NHLPA. There should be 2 reps per team, if not 3. This should ensure that both the majority and the minority on any given team is represented (ideally, of course). The team reps should also be given less power, treated more as information officers, and be responsible for polling the team and reporting the results of those polls to the union.

    My favorite Phil is Latio.

  5. kidkawartha says:

    My favorite Phil is instinctively Donahue, because I know his story in the early 2000’s, but Hartman is close, if only because of this-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FmFVeeLL01c

  6. Pingback: Puck Headlines: Enigmas countdown; slamming Heatley trade | Sports News Images and Videos

  7. Mike S says:

    I would just like to point out that so far no one has selected Phil Spector as their favourite “Phil”

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