Seguin, Kessel intertwined

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin knows that his career will be compared to Maple Leafs forward Phil...

Bruins forward Tyler Seguin knows that his career will be compared to Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel's for many years to come. (CHRISTOPHER PASATIERI/Getty Images)

MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:00 PM ET

Tyler Seguin versus Phil Kessel.

As unjust as it might seem, these two players will be compared with each other for years to come, woven together through time thanks to the trade 13 months ago that sent Kessel from the Boston Bruins to the Maple Leafs for a pair of first round draft picks and a second rounder.

And Seguin knows it.

From the moment the Bruins used one of those Leaf first rounders to select him second overall back at the June entry draft in Los Angeles, Seguin understood that he would forever be linked to Kessel, especially among those living in Leaf-crazed southern Ontario.

As a native of nearby Brampton, he also realizes that the media spotlight on him will become significantly more intense in the coming days leading up to Thursday's Toronto-Boston matchup at the TD Garden, his first NHL game against the Maple Leafs.

Before you start matching up his stats head-to-head against Toronto's Phil the Thrill, however, Seguin has a request.

Can you give him some time to get acclimatized to NHL life before you start doing that on a regular basis, people?

He is, after all, only 18 years old, a kid less than three years removed from playing for the GTHL's Toronto Young Nats.

"I think, right now, the comparison (with Phil) is a bit unfair, at least at this time anyway," Seguin said during a phone interview from Boston. "Maybe in a couple of years, yes, I can see that happening. But right now I'm just starting out in the NHL.

"I've met Phil. He's a great guy and a great player. And I also know Toronto is off to a great start. There's a lot of excitement around their team."

Seguin is well informed of what's going on in Leafs Nation. He has no choice. Many of his close friends are disciples who religiously slurp the blue-and-white Kool-aid.

To date, he's been able to sway them somewhat towards the Bruins, although not all the way.

"They say they are going to wear their Seguin jerseys and cheer on the Bruins except when we play Toronto," Seguin chuckled. "On those games, they say they will wear my jersey AND cheer for the Leafs."

Truth be told, Seguin has been overwhelmed at the support he has received from the Boston community.

"Being recognized on the streets here has been an honour, although it's been kind of weird to see kids wearing my name on the back of their shirts," he said. "My parents have been joking about it."

What Seguin has been able to accomplish in the first few weeks of his NHL career has been anything but a joke.

Heading into play Saturday, the highlight of his infant season easily was his first NHL goal, a play that already has received thousands of hits on YouTube.

Playing against the Phoenix Coyotes in Prague back on Oct. 10, Seguin gloved down a lob pass from teammate Michael Ryder, sped through the neutral zone on a breakaway, then finished off the play with a nifty deke that he will never forget.

In Ryder and Mark Recchi, coach Claude Julien has put Seguin together with linemates who have no shortage of experience. Recchi, in fact, was already in his fourth full NHL season when Seguin was born in Brampton on Jan. 31, 1992.

"I try to pick his brain and go to him for advice all the time," Seguin said. "I mean, he's in his 23rd NHL season and I'm only 18. That should tell you a lot.

"Everybody has been great here. I'm getting more comfortable and confident with every game."

The demands and interview requests are certain to increase, especially with the Leafs poised to come to town. But Julien feels Seguin has the foundation and support structure around him to handle what lies ahead not only this week, but in a very promising career.

" I think he had a lot of practice before he got here, obviously, with all the attention that he was getting in the draft and the role he was playing with his team in the past years," Julien said. "But, at the same time, I think that off the ice, our veterans have done a really good job of helping him through it and involving him in everything, and I think thatís been a great asset for him. Heís a good kid to start with and, with him being surrounded by some great vets, it certainly makes everything a lot smoother.

"On the ice, heís been good for us. If you give him an opportunity, heís a pretty explosive player. Heíll make the best of what you give him. What I like about him so far is his openness to get better and learn the game and the fact that I think every game he plays, he keeps getting better and better and more comfortable, doing all of those little things that are going to make him a good player into a great player."

Come Thursday, there will be more than a few eyeballs in southern Ontario glued to the tube. And, should Seguin do something significant, you can bet more than one Leaf fan will be saying: "Damn ... he could have been ours."

If you are one of these people, here is some advice.

First, get over it.

And second, give the kid a couple of years before you start seriously comparing his numbers to Kessel.

Please.

Cross checks

Kudos to Lauren Wilson, daughter of Leafs coach Ron Wilson, for competing in her first half ironman, the 70.3 mile Beach2Battleship Triathlon on Nov. 13, in Wilmington, N.C., in honor of the late Brendan Burke, son of Leaf GM Brian Burke. Wilson's goal is to help raise money for USA Hockey's Brendan Burke Internship, which has been established in memory of the late Brendan Burke, who passed away unexpectedly on Feb. 5, 2010, at age 21. To support her goal, Lauren Wilson has created a website - 703-BrendanBurke.com - where donations to the Brendan Burke Internship can be made ... By the time the Carolina Hurricanes play their first home game Wednesday against Washington, they would already have travelled about 21,000 kilometres during their season-opening seven-game trip, one that took them from Finland to California ... Question: How does Nashville coach Barry Trotz do it? Every summer he watches players flee via free agency. Every winter his Preds are still competitive. The guys doesn't get nearly enough credit for the job he does in Music City.


Videos

Photos