Phil Kessel‘s actions are a disgrace to the NHL and a disgrace to hockey’s most famous franchise.
For those that did not see the game or highlights from a couple of nights ago (those living under rocks I’m looking in your direction), Buffalo Sabres enforcer John Scott challenged Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel to a fight and while fleeing conflict Kessel turned his stick into a weapon and delivered two brutal slashes and a spear to Scott.
It was a cowardly and embarrassing moment for Kessel who is usually one of the cleaner players in the game.
If Kessel’s actions weren’t enough embarrassment for the NHL the Sabres and Leafs decided to turn back the clock with an old-fashioned line brawl that included both goalies fighting.
But, the true embarrassment for the NHL came a couple of days later, as Kessel was suspended for the remainder of the preseason (3 games). That’s it? 3 exhibition games for turning your stick into a weapon and attempting to injure another player? 3 exhibition games that Kessel might not have even dressed for? Kessel clearly had intent to hurt Scott with his second slash. If you want to say the first slash was self-defense, I will humor you, but Kessel was out of of danger when he attacked Scott with the second slash. Scott, mind you, was tangling with another Leaf at the time and Kessel had open season on his legs.
Phil Kessel is supposed to be a role model for millions of young kids. Is this the type of hockey we want to see with our children? Is this a good example of sportsmanship and fair play? He will be an Olympian this winter. Shouldn’t we expect more?
The NHL had an opportunity to throw the book at Phil Kessel and make an example of behavior that has no place in the game. A 7-10 regular season game ban would have been fitting and sent the message to Kessel and players around the league that this sort of behavior won’t be tolerated.
Whether or not Kessel was a first time offender or not shouldn’t play a part in this suspension because it wasn’t a “hockey play”. This wasn’t an accident or even a split second reaction such as a hit from behind. This was border-line criminal. The second slash that Kessel made was pre-meditated and designed to injure Scott. That should be dealt with accordingly no matter how many offenses a player has had.
The crime should fit the punishment and in this case it should have at the very least been regular season games.
Kessel is a good player but there is no doubt he disgraced the Maple Leaf sweater along the institution of the NHL and should be held accountable for his actions.
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