Getting our Phil of sports topics

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Getting our Phil of sports topics

By Michael Felger

It won't be anywhere near as twisted as a Tanguay's 10, but here's a Felger five-pack just the same.

1. I'm torn regarding the embarrassing Phil Kessel episode the other night at the NHL All-Star draft. In case you missed it, the former Bruin was picked last.

After watching that clip, and if you have an ounce of humanity, you had to feel badly for Kessel sitting there alone. Then came the uncomfortable post-draft interview ("Phil. Phil? Come on down here") and the awarding of a free car. All for being the schmuck. I didn't think that being the last pick of this draft would be a big deal, but I was wrong. That was sort of hard to watch. Awkward. Again, it's hard not to have some sympathy for him.

On the other hand, Kessel's lack of popularity among his peers is no fluke. He's earned it. That's what you get when you don't play hard, don't go into the corners and don't help your teammates in your own end. Kessel is being paid 5 million a year and is a minus-19. Sort of worthy of being picked last, don't you think? It's obvious the other players up on stage weren't shedding any tears -- that's for sure.

2. Given how it transpired with Kessel, the NHL may never do an All-Star draft again, which is too bad. It was great theatre for hockey junkies, certainly better than the game that took place yesterday.

In fact, if I were the NFL I'd be looking into something similar. Given the fantasy football mania that has griped this country, having a similar draw at the Pro Bowl would be an instant hit. Can't you just imagine Ray Lewis and Brian Urlacher pickings sides? Would it be Brady or Manning? or Brees or Rodgers? Polamalu or Reed? Revis or Asomugha?

Again, just like in hockey, it would be far more entertaining than the game itself.

Speaking of which, Bill Belichick has certainly lost his touch in January, hasn't he?

3. As has been the case in the past, the Patriots' greatest misstep in the Logan Mankins situation wasn't necessarily how they approached his contract at the end. It's how they approached it a few years prior.

It never had to come to this. The Pats signed him to a five-year rookie deal in 2005, and even though it was obvious Mankins would be a top interior lineman in the league early on in his career, the Pats let the months and years tick off the contract. If they had come to him a year early, or two years early, they certainly could have gotten him at a discounted rate. Yes, they would have had to come up with some new bonus money, but not as much as they do now. Remember, the price always goes up.

Instead, the Pats stubbornly held onto the leverage they owned on his rookie contract. Just like they did with Deion Branch (the first time). Just like they did with Asante Samuel. Just like they did with Vince Wilfork.

And now if they want Mankins back they'll have to be the high bidder, something they avoid like the plague. Or they'll have to franchise him, which is just asking for more trouble. Or they'll simply lose him, which would be frustrating. There's no reason why Logan Mankins shouldn't have been a Patriot for life.

Whatever the outcome, this isn't about the Pats being cheap. It's about them being stubborn. It's about asset management. They're generally pretty good with it, with a few notable exceptions. Unfortunately, Mankins is one.

4. How was Kevin Garnett NOT suspended for blatantly hitting Channing Frye in the nuggets in Phoenix on Friday? I mean, what do you have to do to earn a seat?

But hey, I'm just glad KG got to wear his special sneakers against the Lakers.

What a league.

5. While Kessel licks his wounds from the weekend, keep an eye on his Maple Leafs in the second half of the season. Remember, the Bruins' still have Toronto's first-rounder this summer, and the Leafs currently reside in 26th place. That means if the season ended today, the B's would be back in the lottery. A nice implosion by Toronto over the final two-plus months could very well give the B's another top two pick.

Meanwhile, eyes in Boston will be focused on what the other Toronto first-rounder from the Kessel trade netted: Tyler Seguin. He has seven goals heading into February, which is basically the same pace at which his dream comparison for B's fans, Stephen Stamkos, was at for the Lightning in 2008. Stamkos turned it on after that All-Star break, scoring 17 goals in the second half, and he's been one of the league's best offensive players since.

The Bruins can only hope Seguin comes close to that production.

E-mail Felger HERE and read the mailbag on Thursday. Listen to Felger on the radio, live this week from the Super Bowl in Dallas from 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 the Sports Hub.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.