Note: Let me begin by pointing out the fact that this blog’s about two days late. I’m not generally a big excuses guy, but I’ve been out of commission the past two days with a sinus infection (in August of all times of the year). My niece had to go along and get the whole family sick af. Just an absolute act of selfishness by the one-year old, if i’m being totally honest.
I still feel like it’s relevant to remind the world how big of a fucking baby Steve Simmons is, though (even though Puck Daddy covered this pretty well the other day).
On another side note, #Pray4Peep. Being sick in the summertime is for the goddamn birds. Your thoughts and prayers are welcome at this difficult time.
By now you’ve all seen the picture heard round the world.
Call it a troll job. Call it Phil being Phil. Call it whatever. The bottom line is this: Phil Kessel still owns a ton of real estate in Steve Simmons’ brain.
For those of you who aren’t entirely familiar with the origins of the Phil Kessel hot dog phenomenon, it all started two years ago the day Kessel was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh. Not even a full day had passed after the blockbuster trade that shook up the landscape on day one of NHL free agency, and members of the Toronto media were already taking their shots at Kessel.
Most notably, Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun did his very best to crown himself King Dick amongst the Capital J’s hailing from The 6. Simmons, unhappy with the fact that his favorite team finished the regular season with an NHL 4th-worst 68 points and missed the playoffs for the 97th consecutive season, decided to take his shot at Kessel in a 900-word hit piece that July 1st evening.
Go ahead and indulge if you’re into reading insufferable hot takes. However, if you’d rather not waste 5-10 minutes out of your day, here’s the cliff notes version: The majority of the article depicted Kessel in a similar light to previous articles written by other members of the Toronto media during Kessel’s tenure with the Leafs. He was the enigmatic superstar who was lazy, didn’t care enough about winning, and poisoned the rest of the team with his negative attitude. The Maple Leafs needed to rid themselves of their “illness.” So ultimately, Phil needed to go.
Quite frankly, it was the same familiar narrative the media of any big sports market team makes any time its top paid athlete is underperforming (or in this case not scoring at least 30 goals for the first time in a full regular season with the Leafs). Interestingly enough, no where in the article did it ever mention that the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs STUNK that year, or that the talent surrounding Kessel on the top line consisted of names like James van Riemsdyk and Tyler Bozak (other than mentioning his attitude poisoned them). Don’t get me wrong, van Riemsdyk and Bozak are both very respectable NHL players, but THE TOP LINE? These are 40-60 point/year players we’re talking. Not exactly a recipe for success in the NHL. You know what else isn’t? Paying David Clarkson $5.2M/year to score 15 points in 58 games. But that’s besides the point.
The 2014-2015 Toronto Maple Leafs were a comedy of errors. Instead of writing anything remotely logical about Kessel’s departure that day, Simmons elected to spare the Leafs’ organizational follies by scapegoating the team superstar for his aforementioned qualities (or lack thereof) along with a few curious sentences at the beginning of his article attacking his nutritional commitment to the team.
The hot dog vendor who parks daily at Front and John Sts. just lost his most reliable customer.
Almost every afternoon at 2:30 p.m., often wearing a toque, Phil Kessel would wander from his neighbourhood condominium to consume his daily snack.
And just like that, a mythical legend was born – Phil Kessel, the hot dog aficionado.
The only problem? Steve Simmons completely made it up to justify his narrative that Phil Kessel’s a lazy, out of shape hockey player.
Now, a lot of time has passed since that article was originally published. As you all very well know, Phil Kessel is now a [back-to-back] STANLEY CUP CHAMPION. And oddly enough, he even seems to step up his game when it matters most. Like, you know, in the playoffs – that time of the year the Maple Leafs are finished playing hockey (except for twice in the past 11 years). Here’s another fun fact: no NHL player has scored more goals than Phil Kessel in the past two postseasons (18). Talk about lack of dedication.
So when Kessel had the opportunity to spend his second consecutive summer with Lord Stanley this past Monday, he made it very clear he remembered exactly what Simmons’ wrote about him in those first three sentences two years ago. Kessel dunked on Simmons so hard on Instagram, all Simmons needed to do was own up to it, and his long standing nightmare would’ve been over.
But he didn’t. Instead, he doubled down like the loser he is.
You can check out the full video of Simmons’ interview on TSN Radio in the link here. If that doesn’t work, here’s the cropped version TSN released via Instragram (or the scene of the murder as I like to call it):
The fact that this guy is still standing by a dogshit article he wrote over two years ago that was both misleading and inaccurate is stunning – especially coming from a Capital J. And yeah, no fucking shit people are going to troll you about three sentences you wrote in a 900-word column. You fat-shamed a professional athlete all because you have a personal vendetta against him. In a perfect world, the Penguins will continue winning Stanley Cups so this can become an annual tradition.
Stanley Cups, hot dogs, and Instagram murders. That’s the real antidote to the “infection” that is Phil Kessel.
Follow me on twitter: @PeepsBurgh.