Now if you are like me, the All-Star weekend is something to be viewed as a PR event for the league and is a great way to provide some sense of personality for the best players in the game. That's fine, certainly nothing to put much stock in in terms of player/team performance and DEFINITELY nothing to get emotionally invested in - after all, it's not a "real game". This year however, shit went down a little differently.
Now when it was announced that Phil Kessel was going to represent the Leafs at this years game in Raleigh, I laughed, especially given the way that Mikhail Grabovski has been playing this season. I can't recall a more streaky and inconsistent cascade of "hope" for the Leafs in my life, and I remember Nik Antropov folks. When he is on, look out, but when he isn't on, he makes Peter Chiarelli look like Carl Jung (psychology reference, had to - Carl Jung was very smart, by the way). I will admit, due to the PR bit I mentioned earlier, Phil Kessel probably had the most star power to represent the Leafs at the game/sell the most ASG jerseys etc.. (the thought of the Dion Phaneuf of this season making the game is laughable.. sadly) and given that the game is meaningless and just for fun and all of that, there is no harm in Kessel going, right?
Well, no. As I said, things this year were different. You all know by now that Kessel was selected last in the draft, with an additional barb tossed in by that insufferable douchebag Staal. Kessel sat in his seat like.. well... me, waiting to be picked for a ringette team in gym class. Now this would be tough for any pro athlete to deal with (especially with the added Staal barb), but Phil Kessel is a whole new breed. From what I have seen, Kessel is incredibly easy to rattle. His goalless droughts are exacerbated with each saved shot and has twice this season gone on 7 game scoreless streaks. If this guy is really our best scoring hope, Burke shit the bed in the worst possible way. Kessel being picked last in the draft can at best inspire him, and at worst bury his season. Now I wasn't born yesterday. I know the Leafs making the playoffs is about as likely as Brett Lebda earning a +1 rating (well, slightly better than that), but if Kessel is slumping you can cross them out as soon as you finish reading this sentence.
Given the anti-Leafs sentiment in Staal's comments and new revelations in James Mirtle's latest Globe and Mail piece (http://bit.ly/fC8uxC), Toronto is not viewed positively by other players and teams (SHOCKING). I say this because, even if Grabovski was chosen to represent the buds, he likely would have been picked last as well. Kessel, in a bizarre way, served as the sacrificial lamb here in an inadvertently. If Grabovski's confidence were to be damaged in any way it would be devastating to the club and spoil the best season that the line of Kulemin-Grabo-MacArthur have had in each of their careers. That my friends, is something I am glad we avoided.
Up the Hammers - Go Leafs Go
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