A day after the NHL's announcement that he was suspended for the remainder of the pre-season, Toronto Maple Leaf forward Phil Kessel finally spoke about his slashing incident with John Scott, saying that - in retrospect - his second slash on the Buffalo Sabres forward was, "uncalled for."
"Obviously I didn't handle it the best way, but I don't know what else you can really do," Kessel told reporters on Wednesday. "A lot of people criticize (slashes), let's see what they can do out there versus a guy like that - they'd all be in a lot of trouble."
Kessel is sitting out his team's final three tune-ups for the regular season after repeatedly slashing Scott prior to a faceoff, part of which precipitated a fight between the two players and a brawl between the clubs at the midway point of the third period in an eventual 5-3 Leaf victory on Sunday.
Kessel was issued a match penalty for slashing for his actions. He had previously gone unpunished for repeated slashes to the lower bodies of Philadelphia Flyers players Luke Schenn and Ben Holmstrom during a pre-season game last week.
The 25-year-old, who becomes an unrestricted free agent next summer, added that there was nothing going on regarding talks for a contract extension. With one week to go until the start of the regular season, Kessel has already said he would prefer not to negotiate during the season.
"I'm not really worried about it," Kessel said. "Nothing's happening and we move on."