Roenick pulls no punches in latest installment of Oh JR! Staff

11/20/2009 6:08:41 PM

Former NHL All Star Jeremy Roenick took part in his latest installment of Oh JR! with Jeremy Roenick, his regular contribution to TSN's Off The Record.

And the quote machine didn't hold back his opinions on topics discussed such as the James Neal hit on Derek Dorsett, the media and if they should be able to report what's overheard, as well as his take on what it's like to be Phil Kessel.

''I can't imagine the stress that he is going through,'' Roenick said of Kessel, the newest Maple Leafs acquisition.  ''He comes from Boston where they won so many games last year, they had so much success, and he had one of the best playmakers in the game feeding him all the time in (Marc) Savard.

''Now he's playing with a team where he can't have that easy tap-in goal or he hasn't had that nice setup that he was getting from Savard last year, so he's ended up doing it mostly himself.''

Kessel has been one of the Maple Leafs' silver linings thus far this season. In eight games, he has five goals and has now accumulated 47 goals in his last 88 regular-season and playoff contests.

''(Kessel) has got the world on his back and I don't know how he's doing it, but he's still playing fantastic hockey,'' said Roenick.

When asked what it would be like playing for a team that is so far out of it this early in the season - referring to the Maple Leafs' league-worst 12 points in 20 games - Roenick didn't shy away from explaining the repercussions.

''I've only played on two teams where I've had that kind of situation happen to me and let me tell you, it is the worst feeling in pro sports because you're going from game to game and you know you don't have much to play for as far as team wise, because you're not going to make the playoffs.

''Every year, we play every game in hopes of getting to the playoffs and winning that Stanley Cup,'' Roenick continued. ''But when that dream is shattered early in the season and you are playing for nothing, guys won't tell you but all of a sudden they start playing for themselves because they start playing for contract years. They start playing as well as they can for themselves. I'll tell you that, but they won't tell you that.''

OTR host Michael Landsberg turned his questions to the latest from Calgary.

Following Tuesday's 3-2 loss to Colorado, Denver Post writer Adrian Dater submitted a Twitter about a shouting match between Flames head coach Brent Sutter and defenceman Dion Phaneuf. The incident happened behind closed doors but was audible to nearby reporters. Roenick was asked if the media should be able to report what they overhear.

''Absolutely not,'' Roenick said confidently. ''That's a huge no-no in pro sports. You are going to lose your credibility and you are going to lose the support of the players in that locker room.

''If somebody knows that you are the guy that's talking behind people's backs or listening behind people's backs, all of a sudden that reporter is going to go in to that locker room and the guys aren't going to talk to him. It's going to be quiet, he's going to be shut out, he's going to be blackballed, and that's the worst-case scenario for a reporter. How's he going to do his job if the players don't have any respect for him or like him?

''Bad career move,'' stated Roenick.

When asked to share his opinion on Stars forward James Neal's hit on Blue Jackets winger Derek Dorsett, which cost Neal two games via disciplinary action from the NHL, Roenick didn't pull any punches in labeling the Stars' leading goal scorer.

''If Neal would have done this 20 years ago, he would have been blackballed from the league,'' said Roenick. ''If you're going to get challenged, then drop your gloves and go to it - fight, but don't come back later on and then give a cheap shot to a guy who has already challenged you.

''To me, that's kind of gutless and I'm sure a lot of guys in the league think that's gutless also.''

Roenick was drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round (eighth overall) in 1988, and played the next eight seasons in the Windy City before spending time in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Los Angeles, and San Jose.

He finished his 20-year NHL career last season as a member of the Sharks, and amassed 566 goals and 772 assists in 1363 regular season and playoff games.