Phil not a thrill this season

JOE WARMINGTON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:38 AM ET

TORONTO - "It might not be working out here."

-- Phil Kessel

Does your bank account work here Phil?

When you earn $6 million a year, life in Toronto can't be all bad.

Anybody else in this town make $600,000 in the past month and not do one thing to earn it?

Obviously, Leafs whiner Phil Kessel didn't think of the guy who paid $200 for a jersey bearing his number when he made his bonehead comments Sunday.

"Give me the $6 million and I will try harder than he does," Matt McGuin said Monday night. "It's pretty disappointing."

Forget Phil the Thrill. How about Phil the Nil?

That's right, the guy this team traded away its future for has not scored a goal in 11 games. He's also one of the worst defensive players in the league.

Yet the lazy goal-suck seems okay placing the blame on everybody else.

Anybody had their fill of Phil? There were a few "Kessel sucks" catcalls from the rafters last night. But not as many as there should have been.

"We gave up two first-round picks to get him and a second rounder and I thought it was a good idea to get his sweater," laughed Matt.

He's had second thoughts about that purchase now.

"Believe me, I have thought about not wearing it," he said laughing.

But he's decided to stick with it for the rest of this season. He, like the Leafs, has made too much of an invest-m ent to walk away now. Hopefully crybaby Kessel will do us all the honour and offer some of the same loyalty and commitment.

If only he would block a shot, or hit somebody or back check once in a while perhaps one could stomach this guy's streaky and occasional decent performances. Right now, the investment in him feels akin to holding a whack of worthless Nortel stock!

Rich Kessel did soften his stance Monday afternoon but Sunday was clearly frustrated over Coach Ron Wilson moving him to the third line to play with fringe pluggers Joey Crabb and Darryl Boyce.

"We've got to change something," Kessel told reporters. "I don't really know what to say about (his slump) any more. I'm trying. Obviously it's not going right. Like I said, it might not be working out here. What are you going to do?"

He should start by apologizing to Leafs fans, his teammates, his coach and to Leafs GM Brian Burke who staked his own future, and that of the Leafs, on bringing him to town. If Kessel had half the character of the less blessed Crabb or a Boyce, he wouldn't thrown in the towel like that statement appeared to do to much of LeafsNation.

"This guy is a floater," commented Billy Baily on torontosun.com,which posted a poll question asking if the Kessel experiment has flopped.

"He won't work the corners or in front of the net. Always plays around the outside and just dumps the puck if he thinks he is going to get hit. I don't know what they saw in him to make that trade. It is obvious that Boston knew something."

Now most of the reporters who cover the Leafs have told me the whole thing was taken out of context and that Kessel was just blowing off steam.

"It was much ado about nothing," said Rob Del Mundo of TMLFANS.ca."I never once got the impression he was stating he wanted to leave Toronto."

The big question should soon start to be at what point does it no longer become his decision?"

"Trade him for anything and it will be better than what we got when we gave up too much," was a common comment from frustrated fans.

Everybody understands the careers of Kessel and Burke are intertwined, but maybe there will come a time when the boss realizes he blew it on this trade, cuts his losses and sends this guy packing just like Boston seemed perfectly fine to do?

Perhaps Kessel was right about something. Maybe it's not working out here.


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