In Toronto, opinions on their hockey team and players flip more than flapjacks in a Southern diner during the breakfast hours, and Phil Kessel has had his share of praise while also taking his fair share of criticism.
He considered by most to be the lone superstar on the youthful Leafs squad, which is certainly a debatable statement.
But through the ups and downs that will continue during the honing of Toronto’s youthful players, Kessel has been selected to represent the Leafs at the upcoming NHL All-Star Game at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina on January 30th, 2011.
Kessel, who has notched 18 goals and 12 assists for 30 points in 41 games but is a minus-15, will join the likes of Sidney Crosby—concussion status pending—who's been on fire all season, Carolina’s own Eric Staal, four Chicago Blackhawks including Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith and a host of others. See the full list here.
Votes aside, is Kessel really deserving of this, or is there just no one else?
Points could be made for Mikhail Grabovski, Clarke MacArthur and Kris Versteeg, who all have more points than Kessel.
But let's not rain on Kessel’s parade. Instead, let's hope that while surrounded with all these great players from around the league, Kessel brings a little something back from the experience to a team that has shown sparks in the new year of being able to put some wins together.
We in Toronto have been on a roller-coaster ride that has been plunging for some time with few upswings over a fair number of years.
I have stated many times that I will bleed blue and white till I die no matter the state of my beloved Leafs.
I will stand by the youth movement that Brian Burke has been building here in Toronto and hope that his still controversial trade for Kessel pays off in the long run, though it's still a hard pill to swallow for most, including myself.
Hope has been the mantra of Leafs Nation for some time, and with the youth within the organization at the present, it will continue to be the steady diet of the fans for at least another year.
Hopefully Kessel shines and represents Leafs Nation well at his first of hopefully many All-Star selections in Raleigh at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game.