- Feschuk’s article about Kessel not liking coaches and disagreeing with Steve Spott (Sept. 17th, 2014)
A curiously well-timed article; it was launched the morning of training camp to cause as much chaos as possible, even though the coaching clinic event took place in the summer time. Spott seemed to be making a point about the difference between the AHL and NHL when it comes to managing highly paid players who believe strongly in what got them to where they are. But, of course, the leap was made that Kessel and Spott having an argument about the powerplay means Kessel is uniquely difficult to coach.
- Kessel’s skating in the summer (Sept. 18th, 2014)
Kessel reveals that he’s only skated “maybe 10 times” over the summer, which, if the reporter did his job, would realize is something that is actually pretty common. Mike Gartner, who Barb Underhill considers the best modern day skater and the template for her teachings, said he didn’t skate any more than Kessel during his offseasons. Gartner adds: “I’d want Phil Kessel on my team.” These first two incidents really set the tone for the season ahead.
- Kadri compares himself to John Tavares (Oct. 22nd, 2014)
While JT is a class above Kadri, this was a quote that got pulled out of context and was not something that’s all too hard to believe for a confident athlete. Both played on the same team in London and Kadri out-produced Tavares after being traded from Kitchener; the powerplay ran through Kadri, and it’s not hard for him to envision being able to do it again.
- Carter Ashton Suspended for PEDs (Nov. 6th, 2014)
A European puffer was cited as the cause by Ashton, while James Mirtle remarked on Ashton’s physique on Twitter. Randy Carlyle didn’t see much value in Ashton anyway, so it wasn’t all too surprising he was eventually dealt after this shoe dropped.
- Siegel/Kessel incident: “Get away from me” ( Nov. 16th, 2014)
After declining to speak to the media following the Leafs’ 6-2 loss to the lowly Sabres, Siegel chased after Kessel down a hallway and Kessel demanded Siegel get away from him.
- Siegel calling out Kessel: “I’m going to out him” (Nov. 17th, 2014)
The next day, Siegel said that Kessel isn’t very nice to the media, who have always treated him so well, and said he is going to “out Phil Kessel” from here on out. It’s still not clear what he meant by that, exactly.
- “Salute Gate” (Nov, 21, 2014)
After numerous Leaf jerseys were thrown on the ice and the team was boo’d off the ice, the team decided not to salute the fans and a media tornado ensued. While this was something the team was silly to bring upon itself in this market, it did prove that people can become passionately upset about something they didn’t care about or even knew existed 24 hours earlier. This became a story in the media for weeks to follow.
- Mike Toth’s heated exchange with Phaneuf (Nov. 21st, 2014)
Mike Toth, who now works at Newstalk1010, showed up at the MCC and lambasted Phaneuf with terrible questions about Salute Gate, to which even his colleagues were heard groaning about.
- Bernier-Mandela (Dec. 8th, 2014)
An honest, stupid and pretty hilarious mistake by Bernier, who was clearly completely unaware of the cause behind the event he was walking the red carpet for, and somehow oblivious to the identity of one of the most significant historical figures of the 20th century.
- Carlyle seemingly calling out management ( Jan. 4th, 2015)
Carlyle effectively autographed his own pink slip after a loss to the Winnipeg Jets in the early New Year, making a vague reference to having to work with what he’s been given: “You don’t always have the luxury to say that you’d like this player or that player or this type of player.”
- Kessel, Phaneuf and Gardiner: Uncoachable (Sun Cover) (Jan. 6th, 2015)
For a coach who guided the team to an eighth-last finish in 2013-14 and who oversaw three major collapses in his three year tenure, Carlyle was often given the benefit of the doubt in the media. That’s partly the media failing to do its job—in some cases—and it’s partly because Carlyle’s relationship with the media was pretty well navigated by the veteran coach. For all the discussion of failures in leadership and accountability, the list often seemed to stop short of the guy behind the bench. In any event, it wasn’t particularly surprising to see the Sun focus on Phaneuf and Kessel (with Gardiner thrown in for giggles?) the day following Carlyle’s dismissal.
- Randy Carlyle Fired (Jan. 6th, 2015)
There was about zero evidence that the team under Carlyle was winning in a sustainable way. While they were in the playoffs on raw point totals, they were not on points percentage. Further, they also played an absurd amount of home games in the first half of the season, which boosted their standing. Nonetheless, the team fired Randy in the middle of the season with the team technically in a playoff spot, and they had no real replacement other than to promote an assistant coach and then throw Steve Staios on the bench, a guy who had never coached before at any level of significance.
- Ron Wilson comments on Phil Kessel (Jan. 6th, 2015)
Best exemplified by this recent Kevin McGran article is how out of context these Ron Wilson quotes were taken. Ignored was the part where Wilson clearly said, “of course you can [win with Phil|,” on account of his elite talent. Wilson obviously didn’t think Kessel was the easiest guy in the world to deal with, though, and for some that’s all many needed (or wanted) to hear.
- The Feschuk-Kessel Incident ( Jan. 6th, 2015)
Feschuk served up a doozy of a leading question, a true Feschuk classic, on Kessel’s “coachability,” which clearly could not actually be answered and was only designed to provoke. Kessel slammed Feschuk to a chorus of cheers from Leafs fans around the globe.
- Brad Ross Suspended for 20 games for PEDs (Jan. 14th, 2015)
Two of these in one season is nothing short of embarrassing for the organization. No excuse was made in this case as the struggling Ross was left to own up to some very poor judgment. Meanwhile, Jimmy Hayes is approaching the 20-goal mark in Florida…
- Give-o-shit meter (Feb. 10th, 2014)
This was an alarming quote to hear out of a head coach, to be sure. But did you think this would lead to a rational discussion on the team’s failing season and overarching flaws? Of course it didn’t. It became the lodestar for media seeking out an overly simplistic narrative to explain away the team’s struggles: A bunch of miscreant players with serious character flaws, led by Phil Kessel. Heck, Kessel apparently cares so little it’s even leading to suggestions that…
- Kessel is dragging Bozak down ( Feb. 28th, 2015)
Dragging Bozak down! Love it or hate it, Kessel can roll out of bed, go to the rink, and light it up. Bozak cannot. It’d be nice if Bozak’s inadequacies as a number one center were explained by poor practice habits. That way Leafs management might be able to easily address a problem they’ve allowed to hamstring the team since 2008.
- Kessel: A Coach Killer (The Hockey News) (Feb. 9th, 2015)
— FACLC (@FACLC) February 9, 2015
- The Rielly “girl” comment (Feb. 20th, 2015)
Rielly obviously never should’ve said it, but also upsetting was Siegel seemingly being unaware of the implications of what Rielly just said. The reporter using some editorial discretion, and pulling the player aside and telling him the implications of his word choice, may have been appreciated by the player in the place of the public shaming that followed. It’s ultimately on Rielly and hopefully he learned from the mistake, as well as anyone else who may have at times espoused an exclusionary attitude about a game that’s meant for any and all to play and enjoy.
- Dion/Lupul/Eisha tweet (March 3rd, 2015)
The apology from TSN to all parties seemed sincere, but we’re still left to wonder how it ever made it through the screening process. Awful, awful, awful.
- Kessel calls out media for treatment of Phaneuf (March 3rd, 2015)
It’s not clear if Kessel really understood what happened with the Dion Phaneuf incident on TSN’s trade deadline coverage the day previous. It was more a horrible mistake than a smear campaign, but it seemed to be the tipping point for Kessel, who alluded to years of undue flak and treatment from the media toward his Captain. This was the second time the normally introverted Kessel broke face in front of the media since the calendar turned 2015, which speaks volumes for a player who had, remarkably, managed to steer almost clear of it all in years previous.
- Dion/Lupul/Eisha demand apologies and announce potential legal action (March 4th, 2015)
As they were well within their rights to do.
- Lupul challenges ‘fan’ to fist fight (March 5th, 2015)
Not a media scandal, but a direct corollary of one and to us it spoke volumes. Lupul previous handled the media as well as any player on the team, and he clearly was pushed past a breaking point following the tweet incident on deadline day.
- Kadri scratched for missing team meeting (March 8th, 9th, 2015)
Of course, Naz showed absolutely no remorse about missing his team meeting and openly mocked the concept of practicing, as the Sun headline would suggest. And he wore some fancy sunglasses once, which just shows how much of a big shot he thinks he is. It’s very much like that Alan Iverson thing that one time.
… What’s that? He didn’t miss practice, he missed a team meeting? And he expressed disappointment in himself, said he was embarrassed, let down his team, and accepted the discipline handed down by his head coach? Bah, whatever, we’ll tie this into the give-a-shit meter thing and sell some papers. Solid.
- Kadri suspended for 2 more games; team announces it’s an ongoing issue (March 11, 2015)
At first it was framed as a one-off incident involving an overslept alarm, only for Shanahan to come out and announce the team was tagging two more games onto the punishment. This smacks of poor communication internally. Amid the drama of the past few months, not being clear about Kadri’s situation and the length of his internal suspension from the start is a bizarre move by the club. This suspension and the public admonishment by Shanahan was also a bold move by a club that must’ve felt it was out of options with the still-maturing 24-year-old player.