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The Hockey News: The Phil Kessel deal demonstrates Brian Burke's gumption

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09-21-2009, 03:45 PM
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The Hockey News: The Phil Kessel deal demonstrates Brian Burke's gumption


The Kessel deal also makes it clear Burke has made Toronto a desired destination for good, young players for a change. There was a time when players such as Tyler Bozak and Jonas Gustavsson wouldnít have given Toronto a second thought. And there was a time when the Leafs would have landed Kessel, though he would have been 36 years old and looking for a nice, fat retirement contract.

Of course, Burke has his shortcomings, but he has demonstrated he doesnít just move pieces around for the sake of change. There is a plan in place and, while thereís no guarantee the plan will be successful, at least there is a sense of direction this franchise hasnít seen in decades.

When he was hired, Burke talked about the Leafs having more pugnacity, testosterone, truculence and belligerence and they have 12 fights so far in the pre-season. He has changed everything about the culture of this team on and off the ice and his recent additions to the teamís scouting staff will be even more vital now, given that the team doesnít have a first round pick in the next two drafts.

And now he has Kessel, a player who can obviously score goals as evidenced by the fact he did so 36 times for the Bruins last season. There is some obvious upside potential with Kessel being just 21 years old and unlike the picks, heís a tangible, known commodity. But that comes with a downside as well, particularly when youíre talking about a player who has some real shortcomings.

Such as, did you know that of Kesselís 36 goals last season, just seven of them were scored against teams that qualified for the playoffs? Or that at one point last season, he went 14 games without a goal and had another stretch where he scored just one goal in 11 games? Even though this was a trade that Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli was forced to make, you know he would have moved heaven and earth to keep Kessel if he thought Kessel was worth keeping.

And those who suggest Kessel feasted off the talents of one of the best playmakers in the league today certainly arenít off base in that notion. Kessel played primarily last season with Milan Lucic, who opened up all kinds of space for him, and Marc Savard, who teed him up for a good number of goals. In fact, Savard drew an assist on 22 of Kesselís 36 goals last season, with a whopping 17 of those being first assists. That means almost half of Kesselís goals came on direct feeds from one of the leagueís most talented set-up men.

With all due respect, you can bet Kessel wonít be seeing those kinds of looks from Matt Stajan.

In the end, the Leafs receive the potential game-breaker they so desperately need and the Bruins get both picks and the underappreciated commodity that is cap space they can use for the future.

And for the Leafs, itís another indication Burke is willing to take this staid franchise into places where it has never been before.

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09-21-2009, 03:56 PM
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So this article states the leafs have a sense of direction, then bashes kessel, then calls Kessel a game breaker and sums it up with brian burke taking the leafs to a cup.


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09-21-2009, 04:34 PM
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Regarding 2nd Paragraph of the article - Whether Kessel had a problem with his coach or not is brought up far too often.
They (Boston) openly tried to trade him in June, left themselves about 2 mill to re-sign him and portrayed Kessel as unwilling to negotiate.
If he did have a problem with his coach it was only icing on the cake.

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09-21-2009, 04:42 PM
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Yeah, I think this article is trying to cover all it's bases.

If it's an opinion piece, why not try to have an opinion?

We've been seeing a lot of these 'opinion articles' on the Burke trade and most of them have a 'sky is falling' quality to them.

By this article alluding to the 22 assists that Savard got by feeding Kessel the puck, couldn't this go both ways? Meaning, that shouldn't Savard be the other side of the deflated production coin?

I mean, was it savards sweet moves, or was it Kessel's sniping that produced those goals and those assists? I think without a killer finisher like Kessel on his wing, boston writers should be writing that Savard's points might come back down to earth.

But they aren't doing that, are they? It seems to be a Toronto-centric way of reporting.

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