Back to business. Yay!
Nick Kypreos is a Stanley Cup champion and Hockeycentral analyst
For the record, I believe that the requirements to have your name etched on the Stanley Cup (at least during the 90s) called for at least forty regular season games played or one Cup-Final game played. Kypreos played fifty-six games that season, tallying an unheard of three goals and eight points between the Whalers and Rangers. He also suited up for game seven of the Stanley Cup Finals in '94, as well as two other playoff games that year. It can be inferred that New York reached the summit of greatness that year only as a result of the electric, graceful, no-shots-on-goal-with-zeroes-across-the-board effort from Kypreos in that game seven. Credit well deserved. Now I see why Alfredsson, Iginla, Richards, Havlat, and Ryan Smyth haven't reached that level. Just sit back, do nothing, and you're a winner. Thanks, Nick!
Sorry for getting carried away. The show must go on.
The interest in this year's NHL all-star weekend was for all the wrong reasons. Drafts are supposed to be about who is picked first -- not last, yet that was the focus Friday night in the televised proceedings ahead of Sunday's game. I give the league and the players credit for trying something different, but not at the expense of someone's pride and reputation.
"Welcome to the 2011 NHL Fantasy-fuck-everyone-else-and-let's-make-fun-of-who-gets-picked-last-Draft, provided by Versus! I'm Mike Emrick, and I hate Phil Kessel! For the next hour, as well as the next three days, we will be providing exclusive and unprecedented coverage of Mr. Irrelevant, Phil Kessel! To follow the theme of this new All-Star Game format, we won't just focus on how terrible Phil Kessel is as a hockey player and how awful his team has been this season, but we will also address how terrible MLSE management has been, how unprofessional it is that Phil Kessel isn't wearing a tie, how stupid his hair looks, how feminine he is after losing that testicle, how he--like every girlfriend (boyfriend) he's ever had--never finishes (OHHH BURNZ!), and how appropriately girly his new Honda will be! I hate Phil Kessel!"
Make no mistake about it, Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs organization took a very big one for the league Friday night. I really felt for Kessel and the rest of the guys who sat there in the final few chairs, squirming to avoid being last. The $20,000 charity donation is always a great thing, but giving him a car is like giving a prize for most honest score at a golf scramble event.
Based on his contract, Phil Kessel earns $14,794.52 a day, everyday (offseason included), until June 30, 2014. I make just over half of that in an entire year. AN ENTIRE YEAR. To think that sitting in a chair for an extended period of time is too much to bear for a guy with that sort of income is just ridiculous. Income aside, it was anticipated that he would be picked last before the damn thing even started! Every Leaf fan this side of Venus is making their claim of which players they would have looked over in order to select Kessel. Short list includes Paul Stastny, Loui Eriksson, David Backes, Matt Duchene, Patrick Elias, Anze Kopitar, Corey Perry, Martin Havlat, Erik Karlsson, Brent Burns, Claude Giroux, Keith Yandle, Kris Letang, Brad Richards, Jeff Skinner, Dan Boyle, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Dustin Byfuglien, Marc Staal, Danny Briere, Rick Nash, Zdeno Chara, Shea Weber, Henrik and Daniel Sedin, Duncan Keith, Steven Stamkos, and Alex Ovechkin.
It is obvious that this new format was invented with the sole intent of embarrassing Phil Kessel and the Toronto Maple Leafs. And to be honest, I'm sure he was quite humbled at winning a car/charity donation for being selected last. Almost $15,000 in daily salary would keep me from getting upset, alone. Throw in a donation toward "the battle" against testicular cancer and a car, and I'm sure he was quite pleased with his weekend. He can confirm this for me:
"I get to go out there and play, just go out there and play the game," Kessel said. "Honestly, (being picked last) doesn't matter. ... We're just happy to be here. It means you're doing pretty well, I guess."
Such is the case. I would assume that this is a better situation for the Maple Leafs rather than having no representative at all. If the Toronto Maple Leafs are that concerned with their presence in the All-Star Weekend, give Nazem Kadri a call up in December; he'd have a strong chance of cracking the rookie squad. There were a few players that deserved the last spot over Kessel (Backstrom, Mike Richards, Mike Ribeiro... ouch, Teemu Selanne, Mikko Koivu, and perhaps a couple others). It's my belief that most of those players would not get picked last in that situation, though. So what does this tell me? Phil Kessel is not an All-Star.
Back to the original article, unfortunately.
I don't think any player should have to go through that again. The label of "last player picked" is now something he will have to carry through his career. And when it comes to Kessel and the continuing debate about the trade that brought him to Toronto, the Leafs' organization needed that like a hole in the head. As if the Leafs' year wasn't bad enough, add this cherry on top of the sundae.
Hahaha, his whole career~!? Amazing. This isn't an amputated leg, diabetes, or herpes. He was the last selection of the 2011 National Hockey League All-Star Game. Such a distinction can only fuck you over for the rest of your life. Perhaps the Kessel trade wasn't the best move that Burke has made, but it definitely isn't the worst. Kessel goes from playing alonside Marc Savard and Milan Lucic 2008-09, to being lined up with either Tyler Bozak and Nikolai Kulemin or Matt Stajan and Alexei Ponikarovsky in 2009-10. Now he's most frequently lined up with Tyler Bozak and JOEY CRABB. I'm sorry if he isn't putting up the numbers you expect from a guy with his salary. That he even has 19 goals and 34 points this season is an accomplishment in itself. Bring in a true number one center, and the 70-point range is a strong possibility. From there, it would be possible that he and the aforementioned number one center are selected for the 2012 All-Star Game, and both are unlikely to be selected last. Problem solved. If the title of "Mr. Irrelevant" in the 2011 All-Star Game is too much for the organization, the pundits, and the fans to bear, then take the proper steps in order to avoid that situation the following season. The Maple Leafs all but set themselves up for this scenario.
I know some say no big deal, and to that I say you're right if the last player was Jeff Skinner from the Carolina Hurricanes or Paul Stastny from the Colorado Avalanche, but because it was a Leaf I say you're wrong.
Selecting Skinner for the All-Star Game may have been a bit of a reach, but playing this well as an eighteen year-old should not be looked over. Also, with Eric Staal as a team captain, and Raleigh playing the role of host to this year's festivities, Skinner was a lock to be an earlier selection. Unless Cam Ward is actually the best goalie in the league this year...
And, to be frank, Paul Stastny is a better hockey player than Phil Kessel. I'll go as far as to say that Stastny is one of the more underrated players in the league at this point, and a complete player in my eyes. I'm sorry that the better player was picked in this situation.
Toronto's market can ill afford to take any more hits. Leaf fans already know where they stand on the scale of respectability, and a Leaf being picked last is another shot at a once-storied franchise. Watching Alex Ovechkin taking a cell phone picture as Patrick Kane announced "with the last pick," you start to wonder how many around the league quietly enjoyed Kessel's humiliation.
While I can't be 100% certain in this regard, but if Kessel is picked before Stastny, I bet Ovechkin still whips out his Blackberry camera with the same childish delight. Phil Kessel isn't the fat kid in overalls getting kicked at recess, nor is he Smalls in the beginning of The Sandlot. He was simply the least-successful player of this year's All-Star bunch. Technically, this makes him the 36th best skater in the NHL this season. In a league with over 900 players, that's quite the accomplishment. Any respectability that Toronto possesses will not be lost as a result of the events that took place last weekend. It's how the Toronto players, staff, and media respond to these events that could and likely will have negative results. Keep on keepin' on, Nick!
All may not be lost though. If the league's motivation was for guys to actually push harder during the game, no one will have more to prove than No. 81 from the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Zero points and three shots in over fifteen minutes of ice time. Keith Yandle was the only other player not to register a point for Team Lidstrom. Atta boy, Phil!
Nick Kypreos, all you did was make this situation worse by providing your grudge-holding, teenage-minded opinion on this matter to the open world. Save it for your diary next time.