Bozak comes to Kessel's defence

DAVE HILSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:48 PM ET

TORONTO - Longtime linemate and good buddy Tyler Bozak came to the defence of embattled winger Phil Kessel after the Maple Leafs morning skate on Monday.

“I feel bad,” Bozak said. “He doesn’t really know what to say and whatnot in some interviews. We give him a hard time about it. I think yesterday maybe you guys put a lot of pressure on him and maybe forced him to say some things out of context that I don’t think he meant the way that they showed on TV. Everyone in here knows he is happy to be here and we’re happy to have him, and we all get along with him. So I think he’ll be fine and get out of the slump he’s in. I don’t think he’s going anywhere. I don’t think he wants to go anywhere.”

Kessel, who was mired in a 10-game goalless drought heading into Monday night’s game against Atlanta, was under the microscope for comments he had made after Sunday’s team practice regarding his demotion to the third line to skate alongside Darryl Boyce and Joey Crabb for last night’s game against the Thrashers.

“Maybe it’s just not working out here I guess. I can’t get anything going,” Kessel had said. “Maybe it’s time for a change or something.”

The comments were misconstrued by at least one media outlet to mean that Kessel wanted out of Toronto. Kessel was also quoted as saying: “Me and Ron don’t really talk...that’s all I have to say about that” when asked if he and coach Ron Wilson had discussed the slump, suggesting that there was a rift between the two.

“We’ve seen lots of media stuff with him before where he kind of scurries out of the scrum underneath the camera, so it’s kind of funny and we crack jokes about it. So when I saw it yesterday, I was laughing a bit because I know he didn’t mean how it sounded on TV and what everyone might have taken from it,” Bozak said.

the right attitude

Maple Leafs rookie goaltender James Reimer didn’t appear too upset about not getting the call last night against the Thrashers or for being pulled after two periods of his previous start. Reimer (5-4-0, 2.38 GAA, .929SV%), who shutout Carolina 3-0 on Thursday, gave up five goals on 30 shots and didn’t come out for the third period of a 6-2 loss in Buffalo on Saturday.

But the resilient netminder said he is just looking forward to his next start.

“I felt really good in practice,” Reimer said. “I was stopping pucks and pucks were hitting me like they’re supposed to. It was an unfortunate game, but I felt good yesterday and today, so things are good.”

That next start will probably come as soon as Tuesday night in Long Island, as the Leafs likely won’t want to use veteran ’keeper J-S Giguere in back-to-back games.

cheese, please

It seems that Leafs defenceman Luke Schenn is both a Cheesehead and a country music lover. Schenn said he is a Packers fan and that he was very pleased Green Bay defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 on Sunday night to take home Super Bowl XLV.

“My uncle and his family always used to go down to watch games, and they’d always bring stuff back,” the Saskatoon native said.

Schenn said he was equally happy Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was named MVP of the game.

“I like him cause he likes country music, and he plays the guitar, too,” Schenn said.

Rodgers was 24-for-39 passing, for 304 yards and three touchdowns.


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