Kessel is hockey's best story

Of all that has gone on in the first quarter of this sometimes brilliant, sometimes worrisome Maple Leafs season, the emergence of Phil Kessel as a possible National Hockey League star is the story that trumps all that isn’t Crosby.

His rise to this level — as leading goal scorer, leading point getter in the NHL — for as long as it lasts has been completely unexpected. The tendency is to believe this cannot continue, especially considering Kessel’s history as a streak scorer, an inconsistent performer, and a sometimes less than motivated athlete.
But he’s never had a streak that was this good, this long, this focused, this dominant. He’s hasn’t shown this kind of star potential, this kind of on-ice authority, since he was compared with Sidney Crosby as a teenager.
And the two have never been close since.
But Brian Burke has seen this kind of ascendency before. He drafted Daniel and Henrik Sedin in Vancouver and had to live through five years of waiting, worrying, wondering what the Sedins would become. He had to live through all the questioning of their talents and concern they would never live up to their lofty billing. It happened in their fifth NHL season, after four seasons in Vancouver and one lockout year. They made the jump from ordinary to great.
The kind of jump Phil Kessel appears to be experiencing through the first quarter of this Leaf season.
Daniel and Henrik were 25 when they turned their careers around. Since the NHL lockout year, Daniel, for example, has scored 524 points in 492 games. Before that, it was 151 points in his first 318 games.
This is season six for Kessel as a professional. He is only 24 years old, having lived through cancer, shoulder surgery and the usual learning period kids must go through, and has never scored more than 64 points or 36 goals in a season before. Those are decent numbers, just not franchise changing, star-like numbers. But right now, one-quarter into this season, he leads all of hockey in goals and points: He has scored 16 times in 21 games, set up 13 others, is on pace — dare we make that ridiculous climb — for 62 goals, 51 assists, 113 points.

161 Responses to Kessel is hockey's best story

  1. lafleur10 says:


  2. lafleur10 says:

    not sure at this point what i'd give up for him he'd help our pp emenicly until markov gets back,and kaberle would be an upgrade over diaz and weber(however both gusy are young and showing some promise) but he would definately help like wizniewski did last year…………….but i think if i had to trade someone for him i would probably offer the hurricanes andrei kostitysn  for him i don't know if it would be enough,but they are looking for a top 6 forward  as the rumors go ,and a.kost is and can be a top 6 winger and if that wasn't good enough or they asked for pacioretty i'd tell them thanks,but no thanks and i'd walk away.

  3. blaze says:

    Lucic does have a bit of a reputation of picking his spots and it is earned. Understandable to a degree because he is a skilled player and doesn't have to fight the big boys. Either way true hockey fight fans would like to see him take a a heavy every now and then.

    If you disagree look at some of the names of the guys on his fight list; Boynton, Komisarek, Witt, McCormack, Lapierre, Melichar, Mair, Bell, Tarnasky etc. not exactly a who's who of quality fighters. He likes to fight middleweights. When he does occasionally take on a true heavy like Orr, Vandermeer, Erskine, Ivanans he hasn't fared very well at all.

    Still though, great player, great fighter, everyone is just kinda secretly jealous.

  4. TheLeafNation91 says:

    I cannot say what led to his demise…But its just not good now.

  5. senators_choke says:

    You're absolutely right I don't read much. I just watch the games.

    Last time I read a hockey article (except for rumors) is 1997. No joke.

  6. mapleleafsfan says:

    Ignore the fact you chirp cancer patients. AND ITS BEEN SAID!

  7. dumbassdoorman says:

    That is becuase you did not fully read the comparison, lol, I said talented players who both have to much after the whistle bs and arrogance, which takes away from the quality players they actually are. Now as far as that diving deal goes you would probably love kesler if he was on your team. I mean I hated my Eagles signing Vick, but have grown to like him.

  8. leafmeister says:

    Fellas I hate to bring this up, but I think Lafleur might be right. I mean he said it caps lock, the dude means business.

  9. mapleleafsfan says:

    haha Shoot, you could very well be right.

  10. DannyLeafs says:

    Like I said, trading him was a must, but that doesn't make Liles a better hockey player. Toronto had to move on and make this Phaneuf's team, and i'ts not as if Wilson could have just decided to use Kaberle differently then they did and make everything better, but in terms of skill, talent and ability there isn't much of a difference in what they are doing for the team. THe difference is how everyone else aroudn them responded. The defense didn't improve because of the play of liles over Kaberle, it has more to do with presence.

    Liles has a decent defensive game for a utility PMD, that's it. Kaberle's defensive game is not quite as good, but it was just victimized by playing in all key defensive situations and playing a lot of time on the PK. If Liles had to play those minutes we would see why Colorado didn't hold out for more when moving him. Liles is also playing very motivated hockey right now, which also makes a big difference to those around him. Kaberle looks defeated. He's not the player he at times was hyped to be, and that brings more critcism and detractors. If Liles was put in Kaberle's shoes, he would have faired no better. Not in T.O. not in Boston, not anywhere.

    I agree moving Kaberle was the right thing, and I agree that it was beneficial, but it's not the player's difference in ability that made it a good move, simply everyone around them.

  11. DannyLeafs says:

    Giving up Paceioretty would be crazy. He's probably my favourite Montreal player, excellent top six winger, the kind most teams are looking for.

    I think Kostitsyn is a fair trade, or at least a fair centrepiece. Maybe a 2nd? not sure how other GM's view Kaberle right now. Could be too big a gamble given his age, there could be the feeling aroudn the league that he won't really get his game back to where it should be.

    Kostitsyn is a decent winger, somewhat disappointing give his skill and potential, but he is still relatively young and could still mature into the player people thought he could when he was drafted. If not, he isn't making a ton, and likely good for 20+ goals and pushing for 50 points.

    Outside of that, I don't think Montreal has anything to offer that would entice the Hurricanes, unless they just want to move Kaberle anyway. It would be weird seeing him in a Hab's Jersey, but it was also weird seeing a guy that played so long with the Leafs with the cup.

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