Maple Leafs' Phil Kessel on fans throwing jerseys to ice: 'Classless'
Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel had some pointed words for fans throwing jerseys on the ice surface.
The Toronto Maple Leafs have been getting it from all angles after their 9-2 loss on home ice to the Nashville Predators. The level of fan disgust is reaching explosive levels. Some fans didn’t even wait until after the game to vent their frustration.
In fact, one bright patron of Air Canada Centre decided to throw a jersey onto the ice, which has become the symbolic show of disgust in the NHL over the last two years. It’s been happening relatively frequently in Toronto and also over in Edmonton where the Oilers have struggled right into last place in the Pacific Division ... again.
However, on Tuesday night, the disgusted Maple Leafs fan couldn’t even wait for a whistle. He or she tossed it with 3:53 remaining in regulation with the Leafs trailing only 8-2 at that point.
The Maple Leafs had to face the music after the game when most of the team was made available to address the media. The questions didn’t stop when Toronto held a practice Wednesday, either.
However, of all the Maple Leafs to address the jersey tossing incident, you wouldn't expect the most sincere and comprehensive statement on the matter to come from Phil Kessel. The oft-brief and cliché-filled quote who has drawn criticism for not talking to the media offered some pointed words about it all.
“It's disrespectful, right?” Kessel said. “Not just to us but to the organization, to all of the Leafs players that have ever played for Toronto. If you want to boo us [that’s fine] – but you're disrespecting all of the great players and the great teams that they've had before us [by throwing jerseys] here. That’s the way I look at it.
“I think that’s pretty classless to throw your jersey on the ice like that.”
Kessel often shies away from statements of much substance, so it would appear that seeing the jerseys fall to the ice does bother him quite a bit.
And as disgusted as Maple Leafs fans should rightly be, Kessel’s point about what the jersey represents is well taken. However, it will likely bring him little sympathy after two straight losses in embarrassing fashion.
The jersey tossing is getting a little out of hand now, though. It has been done enough where you would think the team gets the picture and when someone throws it out there during the course of play, safety becomes an issue as well.
As dumb a practice the jersey throwing has become, it is yet another indication in a series of many that fans are fed up. After one playoff appearance in the last nine years despite the team being able and willing to spend the money, desperation is setting in. And as much as the players don't like seeing their jerseys hit the ice, the only way to cure what ails their fan base is winning.
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