Phil Kessel: Rocket Richard Candidate in 2015-16?

Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs, Mark Blinch, Canadian Press, Hockey

Will the Phil Kessel trade give him the opportunity to win a scoring title? (Mark Blinch/Canadian Press)

The Phil Kessel changed everything. First, it showed the Maple Leafs are headed down the road of the rebuild for sure. Secondly, it put Kessel in a position to be the behind-the-scenes scorer that he wants to and can be. Finally, it powers Pittsburgh’s offence even more so than the duo they already possess.

But does it give Kessel a chance at showing his true scoring touch? After all, it will mean possibly having a true centre for the first time in his career.

For all the thoughts on Phil Kessel’s Rocket Richard charge, check out the link below.  Read more of this post

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Reload or Rebuild: Change is Needed in Pittsburgh

Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Charles LeClaire, USA Today, Pittsburgh Penguins

With two of the best players in the game right now, which route should the Pittsburgh Penguins take? (Charles LeClaire/USA TODAY Sports)

Prior to the Phil Kessel trade, the Pittsburgh Penguins were in some kind of limbo. Two strong forwards and some relatively good depth, but they seemed to be missing pieces on the back end and questions remained surrounding the competency of Marc-Andre Fleury in net.

With the Kessel trade, it’s clear that the Penguins have elected to reload their roster. But should they have gone the other route – the one that leads to a rebuild (even if it is minor)?

For full analysis, check out the link below.  Read more of this post

Phil Kessel: Stepping Away From Media Cliches

Maple Leafs, Toronto, NHL, Nazem Kadri, Hockey, Phil Kessel

Phil Kessel started talking to the media this season a lot more, but it wasn’t the typical answers. (Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press)

We are all used to the typical media clichés that we hear from professional athletes. The same answers to the plethora of questions from members of the media. But what happens when one athlete steps away from these typical answers?

That’s what Phil Kessel did in a post-game scrum – numerous times in fact. To be honest, it was one of the most refreshing things I’ve ever heard. In fact, this piece outlines just how nice it was to hear.  Read more of this post

Week 2: Maple Leafs and Finding Consistency

Maple Leafs, Lightning, NHL, Hockey, Frank Gunn, The Canadian Press

The Kessel-Bozak-JVR line took a lot of criticisms at the start of the 2014-15 season. (Photo by Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press)

Another tough week for the Maple Leafs to start the 2014-15 season, jerseys were flying to the ice and the team was simply looking for a way to play consistent hockey.

While the results weren’t what the team wanted overall, the special teams were playing their game and executing on all cylinders. The team did have some bright spots, but they just needed to find a way of putting it all together.  Read more of this post

Week 1: Maple Leafs Down, But Not Disappointed

Morgan Rielly, Toronto Maple Leafs, NHL, Hockey

The Leafs had a rough start to 2014-15, but could take some positives from Week 1. (Photo by Claus Andersen // Getty Images)

The Maple Leafs had a slow, frustrating start to the 2014-15 season – a start that had star forward Phil Kessel reminding fans and media that it’s a long season and everyone just needs to “relax.” That optimism didn’t change their first week of results, but did show that the Leafs weren’t bowing out early.  Read more of this post

Phil Kessel: Proving He’s at the Top

Phil Kessel, James van Riemsdyk, Toronto Maple Leafs, Mark Blinch, Canadian Press, Hockey

The Leafs’ tandem is scoring on all cylinders – pre and post Olympics. (Mark Blinch // Canadian Press)

When he was first traded for, Brian Burke was frowned upon. People ridiculed him for giving up picks – which turned into Tyler Seguin, Dougie Hamilton, and Jared Knight – for a player who really hadn’t proved anything to that point in his career.

But two Olympics later and now sitting third in the National Hockey League in points, Phil Kessel has matured from one-dimensional sniper to an all-around player. He seems to be flourishing under Leafs’ coach Randy Carlyle whose emphasis on defence has transformed his star forward.  Read more of this post

Part 3: Maple Leafs at the World Junior Hockey Championships

Dave Andreychuk, Canada, IIHF, WJHC, Robert Laberge, Getty Images

Former Leaf, Dave Andreychuk, was a big part of Canada’s success at the IIHF tournament. (Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

Continuing to count down the top 20 former and current Maple Leafs to play in the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championships, part three looks at Phil Kessel’s time with Team U.S.A. and four former members of the Leafs.  Read more of this post

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