Something For Nashville To Prove on Monday

josh cContributor IJanuary 17, 2010

TORONTO - NOVEMBER 3:  Phil Kessel #81 of the Toronto Maple Leafs regroups after getting hit by Mattias Ohlund #5 of the Tampa Bay Lightning during a NHL game at the Air Canada Centre on November 3, 2009 in Toronto, Ontario, Canada .  (Photo by Abelimages/Getty Images)
Abelimages/Getty Images

While Monday's game between the Predators and Leafs appears to be anything but an exciting matchup, the Predators will surely be looking forward to seeing Phil Kessel in Nashville. 

It wasn't so long ago, when Kessel had an opportunity to become a Predator, but opted to block any deals between the Bruins and Preds.  Instead, Kessel decided to force the Bruins into trading him to the Leafs.  At the time, almost every preseason ranking put the Predators around 13th in the Western Conference, but only the Preds faithful gave them a chance to succeed.

My how the tables have turned.  At this point, most teams are 48 games into the season and Nashville (61 pts) is fourth in the West, while Toronto (41 pts) is still a bottom dweller in the East.  While the future is yet to be played out, as of now, Kessel's decision to sign with Toronto appears to be one that could put him on par with the likes of Eric Lindros. 

Remember, it was Lindros that said he wouldn't play for the then Quebec Nordiques (since moved to Colorado).  Colorado then proceeded to win eight division titles and two Stanley Cups, while Lindros' never did hoist the cup as a member of the Flyers, Rangers, Leafs, and Stars.  Was it Karma, or just bad luck... 

Although the Kessel situation is not on the same level as the Lindros saga (yet), some similarities can be drawn.  Either way, I'm sure the Predators would have loved to see Kessel in a Preds jersey, but after being snubbed by the young goal scorer I'm sure the Predators are just as excited to see him and the struggling Leafs on Monday.

Monday's matchup between the Leafs and Predators will mark the only time they face off against each other this season.  That is, unless they meet up in the Stanley Cup Finals, which even with the goal scoring potential of Kessel would not seem probable.