April Fools Comes Early

We Toronto Maple Leaf fans have to have a sense of humor. You read James Mirtle’s column this evening and you get one sense of the current state of the Toronto Maple Leafs:

“Ron Wilson seemed embarrassed by what he witnessed on the ice.

His team had spotted the NHL’s hottest team a 4-0 lead before finally waking up in the third period and dominating the play, too little too late against the Pittsburgh Penguins and Sidney Crosby.

And the Leafs coach was left wishing he had a player like the Pens captain to call his own.

“Well he competes,” Wilson said. “You know? I wish we had more guys [like that and] our top players play as hard as he did. You get to him and he stands up for himself and when his teammates see him doing that, they play hard, too.”

We all, I think it’s safe to say, know what Wilson has to work with right?

Compare that if you will to this gem from a about a month ago by Mike Brophy:

“Based on his performance thus far, Phil Kessel could be in contention for the Hart as MVP and the Maurice Richard Trophy which was introduced in 1999 and goes to the player (or players) who leads the NHL in goal-scoring.

With seven goals in eight games, Kessel is right in the thick of things where the Maurice Richard is concerned. Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Patrick Sharp of the Chicago Blackhawks are tied for the league lead in goals with eight apiece while Kessel, Daniel Sedin of the Vancouver Canucks and Marian Hossa of the Blackhawks trail by one with seven each. For what it’s worth, Kessel has a game in hand on Sedin and two on Hossa.”

No wait, it gets even better:

“It is abundantly clear that if he remains healthy, Kessel will be the driving force behind the Maple Leafs’ offence. The 23-year-old Madison, WI, native is on pace for 72 goals this season.”

Now, I like Phil Kessel as much as the next fan (except for little TSM who is infatuated with Kessel). I think he is a terrific hockey player and the fact that he put up the numbers that he did last year given his lack of support is quite remarkable.

I know the Brophy article is 1 month and a half old. But really, what was Brophy thinking?

I am not a hockey history buff, I am not a stats fanatic. I am, I think a realist. First to be talking about awards at that juncture was a total waste of time. It’s like saying a guy who hits a homerun on opening day is going to hit 162 of them if he stays healthy. Seasons, regardless of sport are marathons. They contain peaks and valleys.

“you can’t help but notice the speedy winger every time he’s on the ice. He’s the one who usually has the puck and drives to the opposition’s net. Not big at 5-foot-11 and 180 pounds, Kessel nevertheless shows no fear with the puck. With one of the quickest releases in the NHL, Kessel seems to want to score on every shift.

At some point you would expect the likes of Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin and maybe even Ilya Kovalchuk to enter the race for the Rocket, but for now Kessel looks like as good a bet as anybody to win the major award. And if he wins it, the Hart can’t be far behind.”

You can’t help but notice Kessel on the ice because the talent drop off after him on the offensive side is so dramatic he looks like the only guy in blue and white moving. Again, I like Kessel. I really do. He isn’t being mentioned in any circles I know of along with Crosby ,Ovechkin on Sedin for that matter. Talk about jumping the gun a tad bit early…

When you read Ron Wilson’s comments it doesn’t sound like he’s feeling he has an MVP or Richard winner on his team does it?

I don’t know what Mike Brophy’s thinking back in October when he wrote that article, but as an April Fools birthday boy, I am only too happy to tell you that it isn’t that time of year YET. Maybe it’s just a twisted sense of humor.



James Mirtle’s article is here

Mike Brophy’s article is here

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