Phil Kessel did not have much to say, but he shared it nonetheless after the Toronto Maple Leafs held their final practice on Tuesday before heading out to Boston for the start of their opening round playoff series against the Bruins.
The notoriously reticent Toronto winger was taken to task by many on Monday after he skipped out on members of the media who wanted to get his views on the upcoming playoffs, which begin Wednesday night.
Kessel, a former Boston player, said his decision to remain silent after Monday’s practice was nothing personal.
“I didn’t think it was that big a deal,” Kessel told reporters on Tuesday following a brisk workout at the Mastercard Centre in the city’s west end. “You guys don’t want to talk to me that much during the year and you need me yesterday?
“I think you guys made a bigger deal about it than it is.”
The fact that it is Toronto’s first playoff appearance in nine years against a fellow Original Six opponent that Kessel used to play for was obviously lost on the player.
Asked how he would react to the undoubtedly hostile reception that Boston fans will present to him on Wednesday, Kessel said it would not pose any problem.
“That’s fine,” he said. “I had great years there. I love the city. The fans were great to me there. I think it’s part of the game.”
The good news out of practice was that Tyler Bozak, who missed the last two games of the regular season with an upper body injury, participated in full.
Skating hard on the top line along with James van Riemskyk and Kessel, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said he expects Bozak will be playing on Wednesday.
“I’m going on the assumption that Bozak was a day-to-day and when a player practices for the full practice, unless he tells us something different between today and tomorrow I would expect Tyler Bozak to be available,” is how the coach put it.