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Phil Kessel blasts Toronto media for its treatment of Dion Phaneuf (video)


Toronto Maple Leafs star Phil Kessel has finally had it with what he perceives as the shoddy treatment that Dion Phaneuf has been forced to endure this season, especially from the media.

The typically media-averse Kessel, who leads the team in both goals (23) and points (50) stood in the locker room and chastised the assembled media for how it hasn’t held back in its criticism of the team’s captain, arguing that “a lot of people should be ashamed of themselves.”

“You know what? I’m just tired of it. I’ve finally had it,” said Kessel, via the Toronto Star. “I think this city (Toronto) is a great hockey city and I love playing here. But some of the things that happen and Dion getting abused like he does, and things that are said about him. He’s our best defenceman.”

Phaneuf has struggled mightily all season, scoring only three goals and adding 20 assists while going a minus-8 in what has been yet another nightmare season for the Leafs.

“You guys are unfair in criticizing Dion,” said Kessel. “He is our best defenceman. And you guys act like he’s not trying.

“Is it his fault we’re losing? No. Did he build this team? No. The crap he takes, the things people say, I’m just tired of it here. He’s owed some apologies. It’s disgusting the way people treat him.”

And an irate Kessel, who along with his pal Phaneuf were the topic of trade talks heading into the trade deadline Monday, wasn’t finished with his angry diatribe against media just yet.

“A lot of people should be ashamed of themselves,” said Kessel. “I don’t think anyone deserves to be treated like that. I think a lot of media here should be embarrassed.”

The wheels now have complete fallen off what already was a dreadful season for the Maple Leafs. The team is dwelling in the cellar of the Eastern Conference with 25-33-5 record (55 points), saw its head coach fired in January and suffered a franchise-worst 11 game winless streak this season.

Add that to how players in November passed on doing the traditional stick salute following a win at Air Canada Centre, believed to be in response to disgruntled fans throwing jerseys on the ice in previous games, and this season has been a complete and utter nightmare for the once-proud franchise … a franchise that has suffered far too many nightmare seasons of late.