Kessel: Leafs have to “be prepared for the long season”

  • David Hartler
(AP Photo)

(AP Photo)

The Toronto Maple Leafs’ attempt at playoff glory last season was a let down to say the least. Quickly losing 12 of their final 14 games, Toronto slipped away from NHL discussion. This past offseason, adding Brendan Shanahan as team president may have helped boost the team morale.

Changes in the coaching staff have many players on the Leafs feeling this year could be different. Star right wing Phil Kessel believes the team will be right back in contention as the season begins. Kessel knotted 37 regular season goals, which was fifth best in the NHL. With his strength and ability, Kessel needs to rejuvenate the Leafs as they regroup for 2014-15.

“I think we had a good team,” Kessel said after a ball-hockey game on centre court at Rexall Centre, site of the Rogers Cup. “We were there last year. We had a bad stretch.

“We don’t have that stretch, we’re right in it. This year we made some good additions and I think we improved as a team, and we’re going to be ready to go.

“We’ve got to be prepared for the long season, and we won’t go through one of those again,” Kessel said.

Kessel believes the outcome of last season might have been different if his team could have closed out their games. In his terms, “one of those again,” might stand for the catastrophe that cost them a playoff spot. The Leafs have the talent to pursue a playoff run, but the length of the season can be costly.

For me, I need to see a swift change in play right off the bat. Peter Horachek and Steve Spott, who were made assistant coaches, need to challenge their players if Toronto wants to see a turn around.  

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Around the Rink Contributor David Hartler – @theofficialdh

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