Toronto Sun columnist Steve Simmons is at it again. The notorious Toronto sportswriter has managed to carve out a second career for himself by becoming a professional Phil Kessel detractor of sorts. When Kessel starred for the Toronto Maple Leafs from 2009-2015, Simmons was perhaps his biggest and most outspoken critic. Kessel has of course moved on to Pittsburgh where he’s had tremendous success with two Stanley Cup championships in two years, but still Simmons just can’t help himself from throwing darts at the former Leafs sniper.
In his latest column for the Toronto Sun, Simmons asserts that Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan had a deal in place with former Penguins assistant coach Rick Tocchet to manage Kessel. According to Simmons, “It’s not that (Sullivan) doesn’t care for Kessel. It’s that he truly doesn’t want to deal with him in any significant way. “ Don’t those statements contradict each other?
In any case, what if Simmons is right in his assertion? What if Tocchet was counted on to act as a buffer between his player and his head coach? This is a very important responsibility of a good assistant coach and likely isn’t much of a different strategy than what most other teams employ. Also, who better to manage an emotional and mercurial scorer like Kessel than newly hired assistant coach Mark Recchi? They didn’t call him “Wrecking Ball” during his playing days for nothing. The hot-tempered Recchi will surely have an understanding of his players and can act as the buffer between players and coaches moving forward.
What do you think Pens fans? Is this just more character assassination from Simmons? Or, is this cause for a concern moving forward?