At last night’s preseason game against the Washington Capitals, I still saw dozens of Bruins fans wearing the #81 Kessel jersey. There is no doubt that Phil Kessel is still an excellent player for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He was just one of those players (like Tyler Seguin) who just didn’t fit into (Bruins GM) Peter Chiarelli’s or Claude Julien‘s system. No matter how skilled a player is, or what a prolific scorer he can be, it certainly does not excuse his actions.
Phil Kessel will be facing supplementary discipline for his actions last Sunday night. For those of you who missed one of the nastier line brawls in recent memory, here it is again.
Let’s start this off by saying I am certainly no fan of John Scott. The guys only mission on the ice is to pummel the crap out of an opposing player. His only redeeming quality is that he knows what his job is and makes no excuses for it. (That’s why he’ll always be higher in my respect level than someone like Matt Cooke.) His size(second only to Zdeno Chara), and his two career goals clearly mark him as one of the last ‘goons’ in the NHL.
Phil Kessel starts a tussle with Scott, and wisely disengages. Then, Kessel lets his adrenalin and gonads overrule his common sense. He wields his stick like a broadsword and takes two separate swings at Scott. The second slash occurs while Scott is engaged with another Leafs player. Granted, there was a whirlwind of action, and the referees(and the medics) had their hands full, as it became a full blown Donnybrook. Even the goaltenders got involved in the fracas.
Leafs forward David Clarkson received an automatic ten game suspension for leaving the bench to join in the fight. Clarkson was clearly in the wrong, and has offered no opposition to the call made by the NHL office of Player Safety.
Kessel is likely to receive a suspension that matches the one that Clarkson got. One slash was bad enough. (That alone warranted the ten minute, the ejection, and perhaps a single game suspension.) The second one was a directed attack to a player in a melee. It was completely uncalled for. The league will need to send a clear message that brandishing your lumber in a hockey fight is reckless, dangerous, and totally stupid.