#TBT: Defending A Teammate (2015)

No, I love Toronto. Umm . . . I love playing here. I love the city. I signed 8 years. But I just think enough is enough.”~Phil Kessell talking about the abuse his teammate endures from fans and the media

Deion Phaneuf is the captain of Toronto Maple Leafs–a NHL team that has had a dismal season. Maybe one can say the season has been more than dismal with disappointed fans tossing their jerseys on the ice. The media has bashed the team especially Phaneuf and Phil Kessell. However, the brunt of criticism has been placed on Phaneuf as the team captain.

The media has laid the blame for the terrible losses at Phaneuf’s feet. Comments like “he doesn’t seem to joke around or have much of a personality” and the false, foul tweet about Phaneuf’s wife having an affair with a teammate are just a couple of examples of the bashing Phaneuf has taken from the pen stroke of the media.

Fans and the media have high expectations as Phaneuf is in his first year of his new deal. But both need to understand he is only responsible for his play and leading his fellow teammates. Instead of understanding, Phaneuf’s name has swirled around as being trading material for the last three weeks. Yet, Phaneuf has made himself available every day–excluding today–to put up with the insulting questions and so forth.

But yesterday, fellow teammate, Phil Kessell, stood up for Phaneuf. Kessell said he was tired of the complaints regarding his teammate. Kessell said he was embarrassed for members of the media who are constantly degrading Phaneuf and those members owe Phaneuf an apology. So, now, the media appears divided. Some feel Kessell should have kept his mouth shut; others appreciate that he stood up for his teammate. The latter group appears to be mostly former players.

And that’s exactly what Kessell did. He stood up for his teammate. He showed himself as a friend. Enemies bash someone behind their back; friends stand up for one when the rest of the world is kicking dirt on your grave.

A locker room–while often compared to the business world–is different than a corporate boardroom. There has to be comrades in a locker room not just teammates; teammates work in business as one’s professional and personal lives should not be all inclusive. Players’ lives are entwined with all of their time being consumed with playing, practicing, and community involvement during the season.

Hence, the reason it was important for Phil Kessell to stand up for his teammate, Phaneuf . . . to contribute to the bond of the team. And tonight, the Maple Leafs won. It may not be due to Kessell standing up for his teammate, but I guarantee that didn’t hurt.

Source: TYT Sports

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