Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Kessel Booed by Maple Leafs Fans in Return to Toronto with Penguins

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

Kessel Booed by Maple Leafs Fans in Return to Toronto with Penguins

Article excerpt

Penguins' Kessel booed in return to Toronto

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TORONTO - Phil Kessel brushed off some boos and the lack of recognition from the Maple Leafs in his return to Toronto.

Fans booed Kessel each time he touched the puck in his first game back at Air Canada Centre with the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the star right-winger wasn't bothered by how he was received. He was more glad just to get it over with.

"I didn't hear many boos out there," Kessel said after the Penguins' 4-0 shutout of the Leafs on Saturday night. "Obviously I loved playing here, I loved my time in Toronto. I always considered this home, right? I played here six years, I love the city. The fans were often good to me when I was here."

Portions of the sellout crowd of 19,197 booed Kessel, but there wasn't much gusto behind it. Fans didn't get a chance to show any appreciation for Kessel because the team did not stage any kind of video tribute or acknowledge his first game back since being traded to the Penguins on July 1.

"I don't care, to tell you the truth," Kessel said when asked about the Leafs not having a video tribute. "I could care less."

Saying it was "a little strange" to be an opposing player back at Air Canada Centre, Kessel had one shot on goal in 18:07 of ice time while skating alongside Evgeni Malkin and David Perron. No offence from Kessel, Malkin or Sidney Crosby was no problem as Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 21 shots for his 40th NHL shutout and Eric Fehr scored in his season debut.

The Penguins won their fourth straight and for the seventh time in their past eight games. Kessel's former team lost its sixth straight to fall to 1-7-2.

Kessel said before and after the victory that it was "just another game." But despite the six-time Leafs leading scorer's return going by with a whimper, the Penguins cared about getting this win for him.

"I think we all knew how much it meant to him," Fleury said. "It's fun to see how all the guys played out there and made sure we had that win."

Kessel endured a complicated tenure in Toronto, putting up 181 goals and 213 assists for 394 points in 446 regular-season games and six points in the seven-game series against the Boston Bruins in the 2013 playoffs. …

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