In the wake of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ firing of head coach Randy Carlyle, Phil Kessel snapped at a Toronto Star reporter Tuesday when it was suggested to the star that he was a difficult player to coach.
“I don’t think so. That’s a weird question for you to ask, though, on a day like that when your coach gets fired,” Kessel told a scrum of reporters.
When the reporter, Dave Feschuk, defended his question, Kessel responded: “You think it’s my fault? Is that what you’re saying?”
Feeling disrespected, Kessel then turned his head and laughed.
"This guy's such an idiot here," he said. "He's always been like that."
Although Kessel leads all Maple Leafs and is tied for ninth in the NHL in scoring with 41 points, the sniper has faced criticism from former coaches.
Ron Wilson, Carlyle's predecessor in Toronto, appeared on TSN radio Tuesday and ripped Kessel's coachability and work ethic.
“Some of these core players have failed under two of three coaches,” Wilson said. “You would have to surmise that some of them are uncoachable now.
“Phil’s problem, and I think it’s pretty much how Phil’s been his whole career, is that he is two weeks on and two weeks off,” Wilson said. “You can’t rely on him. That’s just the way he is. It affects his game and his relationship with players."
If I were Kessel's PR man, today would have had him say "If you want to blame somebody for Randy's firing, blame me."
— Damien Cox (@DamoSpin) January 6, 2015
Kessel is in a bit of a scoring funk right now, having notched one goal in his last nine outings.
“I’ve been here a while now, and we go through these ups and downs. We haven’t been playing well,” Kessel told reporters.
“It’s not his fault. He’s a great coach. He’s won a Cup. We didn’t get it done.”
(Kessel video via CBC News)