On Friday, Phil Kessel and David Booth wrote another page in the tragedy that is the Toronto Maple Leafs’ 2014-2015 season.
During practice, Kessel and Booth exchanged cross-checks before grabbing onto each other. The rest of the team quickly acted and ended the fight before any real punches were thrown, but from the looks of things, they weren’t joking around.
Despite the lack of punches, it appears that the verbal sparring continued after the two were separated, both on and off the ice. While speaking to reporters, Booth insinuated that Kessel’s effort has been lacking this season.
“It was actually good to see that,” said Booth of Kessel’s competitive fire during practice, according to TSN’s Jonas Siegel.
Phil Kessel declined to speak to the media following practice.
The Leafs’ odyssey has featured fans throwing jerseys on the ice, Joffrey Lupul’s outrage over a tweet aired during TSN’s trade deadline coverage, Phil Kessel’s criticism of the Toronto media, the very public disciplining of embattled center Nazem Kadri, and now this.
Relegated to the league’s basement alongside the Oilers, Coyotes, and Sabres, the Maple Leafs have struggled since firing Randy Carlyle in early January. At the time, the Leafs held the second wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference, but the Leafs’ front office blamed Carlyle for the team’s inconsistent play.
The Leafs were teetering on the edge of a cliff, and Carlyle’s firing pushed them over the edge. They are 6-29 in their 35 games since the firing.
— Jesse Mclean (@Jmclean42) March 27, 2015