Over the Family Day weekend - before a pipe burst at my parent's place - I was up at my cousin's cottage by Point Pelee. On the Saturday night, we settled in to watch a family movie and chose My Big Fat Greek Wedding which is, I assume, as incredibly on point as to the experience of a
first second generation Canadian for others as it was to me. A running gag is that the father, driven by his pride in his Greek heritage, can link any word back to a Greek root. Of course this features him trying to link a word like kimono to Greek. It's an endearing tic.
On the flip side, there are people like Steve Simmons who use that same tic to be insufferable boors. There is no problem that the Maple Leafs face that cannot be tracked back to Phil Kessel. Dave Nonis builds a lottery-level team? Phil Kessel's fault for not overcoming shortcomings by himself. Randy Carlyle can't coach his way out of a paper bag? It's Phil Kessel's fault for being uncoachable. But the latest salvo in his deranged pursuit of laying all of the blame for the Leafs' woes at Kessel's feet is probably the most insane:
The obvious point is that there never was a nice boy known as Tyler Bozak. He is a media and team creation. There are many recurring themes on this site but one of them is that Bozak is not a first line centre. He doesn't fare well against his peers despite the ludicrous mental gymnastics that some mittenstringers engage in to try to make him look strong defensively. His greatest skill is acting like a lamprey to Phil Kessel's great white shark and his short hot streak has long since, predictably, come to a screeching halt. He's fallen so far in the local media's graces that they're trying to re-write history to erase their previous gleeful praise of Bozak. But now, he's committed the most grievous of sins: being snippy with the entitled local media.
While it is comforting to see that the nameless Leafs executive understands that Phil Kessel is an otherworldly talent who gets extra leeway, is it any wonder that Bozak thinks that the slack given to Kessel somehow extends to him?
Since the day he was signed, the Leafs have given him every indication that he is much more valuable that he actually is. They've refused to remove him from Kessel's line, they deploy him on the top powerplay unit, use him on the penalty kill, promote him over Nazem Kadri at every turn, and they re-signed him to a long-term deal which ensured that under Randy Carlyle that he would never be faced with being played in the role that he actually deserves. And now some anonymous source is surprised at how he is acting? That shows a remarkable lack of self-awareness and considering that Loiselle and Poulin and Carlyle have been canned, I would bet that the anonymous source is Leafs' GM Dave Nonis. I know that if I was Shanahan that I would want to know who is giving Steve Simmons these moronic soundbites.
It's mind-boggling that the solution to Tyler Bozak being a jumped up third liner is that Phil Kessel should be traded rather than having someone in authority ask Bozak - to paraphrase Spencer Trilby - what makes him think that the slack the team cuts Kessel in anyway translates to him? The irony of Simmons critiquing anyone's behaviour at practice is that he rarely goes to the Leafs' practices himself and yet somehow he manages to provide opinions on other reporters and on the players. Especially when his coverage of the Leafs could at best be charitably described as 'flailing', 'pathetic', or just plain 'embarrassing'. Maybe it's time that he be fired from his paper since his work has so clearly been affected by working for a rag only fit for training puppies and lining parakeet cages.