Leafs' Kessel on head coach: 'Me and Ron don't really talk' Staff

2/6/2011 11:58:48 PM

After being benched for part of Saturday's 6-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, Toronto Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel showed some frustration Sunday after being demoted to the club's third line by head coach Ron Wilson.

Kessel was asked if his head coach had pulled him aside to talk about any issues.

"No, me and Ron don't really talk. That's all I have to say about that," replied Kessel.

Kessel's scoring slump has reached 10 games, and the winger was placed on a line with Joey Crabb and Darryl Boyce.

"I don't really know what to say about that any more," said Kessel of his slump. "I'm trying. Obviously, it's not going right. It might not be working out here. What are you going to do?"

Wilson addressed the decision to shuffle Kessel's spot on the forward lines.

"Phil hasn't scored in 10 games, and I think in that period he's been minus-7," explained Wilson. "So we're trying to find some balance, and I think Darryl can help the line defensively."

Kessel, who was the last pick in the NHL All-Star fantasy draft last month, is minus-22 this season with 19 goals and 15 assists for the struggling Leafs.

"I don't know. Maybe it's just not working out, I guess," explained Kessel of his line assignment. "Who knows? I didn't get anything going. Maybe it's time for a change or something. Who knows?"

Wilson targeted the 23-year-old's defensive play as a contributing reason for shuffling his star scorer's ice time.

"When he's so focused on scoring goals, he's forgetting the other part of the game," Wilson said. "If the puck's not going in, and that's all you're focused (on), a lot of times you'll end up not being in the positions you should be in. And that goes for any player...if you're struggling to score, don't be scored against."

The Leafs return to action Monday night when they host the Atlanta Thrashers.