Originally written on Goon's World  |  Last updated 8/10/12

BUFFALO, NY - DECEMBER 18: Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs skates with the puck against Thomas Vanek #26 of the Buffalo Sabres at HSBC Arena on December 18, 2009 in Buffalo, New York. (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
It would appear that former Minnesota Golden Gopher and Boston Bruins forward Phil Kessel is feeling the pressure in Toronto and some are beginning to wonder if the Leafs need to trade Kessel while he is still on top of him game.

Meanwhile, Boston Bruins fans are saying thank you Kessel and are happy to have Tyler Seguin on their team as the result of the 2010 offer sheet by Brian Burke. If you asked Boston Bruins fans if they would take Kessel back, they would probably say hell no. Also, after reading the comments of some of the Bruins players it sounds like many of them didn’t want him back either… Bruins tough guy Shawn Thornton admitted to not liking the former Bruins forward on a Boston talk show back in December of 2009.
Mark Ritter, The Slapshot Blog --- Since arriving in Toronto Kessel has been under a tremendous amount of scrutiny from both the media and fans. A quiet, unassuming player, Kessel has tried to remain in the shadows, but in the media frenzy that is Toronto it has been tough for him to remain anonymous. As tough as it has been for Kessel to avoid the media attention he receives, it has been even tougher for him to live up to expectations.

While the pressure to perform is with every NHL player, Kessel (fairly or unfairly) will forever be judged against the performances of Seguin (who is well on his way to becoming a star) and Hamilton (who is regarded as an exceptional defensive prospect) and to a lesser extent Knight (who is a project). While the comparisons are unfair, Kessel seems unaffected by all the attention, as witnessed by the numbers he has put up over the past three seasons.
For whatever reason, fair or unfair Phil Kessel seems to be under a lot of scrutiny from NHL hockey fans (Boston and Toronto) and the Toronto media – after failing to agree with a restricted free agent contract after three seasons with the Boston Bruins – the Toronto Maple Leafs General Manager Brian Burke signed Kessel an offer sheet which was not matched by the Boston Bruins and Kessel is now the Toronto Maple Leafs problem.

I have only met the former Bruins forward once in passing at the Grand Forks Airport after the 2005 WJC, that was held in Grand Forks and Kessl came off as a quiet, polite, unassuming but also a very shy person. 

But I digress.

I think all of us know the rest of the story – the Bruins won their first Stanley Cup in 39 years and to this day, the Toronto Maple Leafs continued to be mired in mediocrity. The former Bruin Kessel is heckled in Boston every time he touches the puck and now after last season the Bruins fans also chant thank you Kessel. Because of the Leafs offer sheet – the Bruins ended up with two first round picks and a second round pick. One of the Bruins first round draft picks was fan favorite Tyler Segiun, who helped the Boston Bruins win the cup – but was also in his second season with the Bruins was their leading scorer last season.

According to Michael Traikos from the National Post – one Toronto beat writer from an unnamed newspaper suggested that the Maple Leafs trade the young Kessel after leading the Leafs in scoring “while he still has any value.” According to Michael Traikos from the National Post – one Toronto beat writer from an unnamed newspaper suggested that the Maple Leafs trade the young Kessel after leading the Leafs in scoring “while he still has any value.”

I think it’s premature to through Kessel under the bus – last season he didn’t have much of a supporting cast but the Leafs have a stable full of young talent that is starting to mature and that could just take the heat of Kessel. One thing the Leafs need is a setup man that could pass Kessel the puck – in Boston it was Marc Savard – Toronto it’s to be determined.


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