Kessel the Key to Next Leafs Coach

Posted By: Mike Toth · 1/8/2015 6:22:00 AM

I distinctly remember the day Randy Carlyle was hired as head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

"Oh Oh," I thought. "There's no way Carlyle will get along with Phil Kessel."

I actually like Kessel as both a person and a player, but there's no question he can be a moody sunuvagun who often dances to the beat of his own drummer. Carlyle, on the other hand, is an old-school NHL guy who always preaches about playing the "right" way. That "right" way basically involves back checking; something "Phil the Thrill" rarely gets excited about.

As it turned out, however, you had to give Carlyle credit. Under his guidance Kessel became one of the league's top snipers, the Leafs actually landed a play-off spot and the Carlyle-Kessel chemistry experiment worked a lot better than most people thought it would.

Until this year, that is.

Before the season Carlyle admitted to treating ...