Longtime Toronto Maple Leafs scapegoat Phil Kessel will return to Hockey’s Capital on Saturday for the first time since the team traded him to the Pittsburgh Penguins over the summer. However, Sportsnet’s Damien Cox reports that the team has no tribute planned for their least favorite son’s return.
The Maple Leafs have offered many tributes in recent seasons, but this is being reported as a decision by new management to scale back those efforts and take a new direction under Brendan Shanahan and Lou Lamoriello.
Though it’s arguably a strange person to start the new policy with, considering the number of tributes that Kessel sat through and that he was on the team for six years.
In total, Kessel played 446 games for the Leafs, scoring 181 goals and 213 assists in that time.
Despite just being there for six years — as opposed to a full career — he ranks ninth on the list of all-time Maple Leafs goal scorers, ninth in shots, sixth in game-winning goals, 10th in power play goals and third in hat tricks.
Over his time with Toronto — 2009-10 through 2014-15 — he ranks fifth in the NHL in goals scored, ninth in power play goals and 16th in total points.
“No insult to Phil Kessel, but they aren’t going to be, at this point, offering or doing any kind of tribute,” Cox says.
Dustin Nelson is the News Editor for The Hockey Writers. He’s a contributor to Hockey Prospectus, Hockey Wilderness, and writes a column for Rotowire. He’s also written for Gone Puck Wild, Wild Xtra, InDigest, Electric Literature, The Rumpus, Tiny Mix Tapes, Prefix Magazine & other publications. Have a tip? Email him at dlukenelson[at]gmail[dot]com.