Toronto Maple Leafs

Phil Kessel Is The Greatest Toronto Maple Leaf Since Russ Courtnall

15 Feb 1999:  Russ Courtnall #19 of the  Los Angeles Kings looks on during the game against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Ducks defeated the Kings 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Kellie Landis  /Allsport
Kellie Landis/Getty Images
Ben DoverContributor INovember 28, 2009

Last night, Phil Kessel scored the greatest goal the rambunctious crowd in Flashy Florida has ever seen or will ever see. The wily little master, with soft hands and dashing footwork, bamboozled the Panther D with a little Johnny Dazzler.

After it was all said and done, the People’s Prince just leaned back against the boards and smiled.

Too right, he was worth two draft picks, a pay as you go phone card and some breath mints. Phil Kessel is a wunderkind. A player of such scintillating skill not seen since, well, not seen since Duncan B.C's very own Russ Courtnall.

Rusty Courtnall was, for all intents and purposes, as Leaf's fan will remember, " The gazelle with skates".

The boy form B.C brought with him that x-factor, that heightened sense of smell for the net, that speed, the dynamism, that "thing" you just can't teach.

And didn't Toronto, lap young Courtnall up in spades? The adorning public just couldn't get enough. A massive statue made of compacted horse manure was erected at the CNE in August. The hype was incredible.

The pressure on Russ was immense, and he handled it well, the wins and the goals were bountiful.

Toronto rejoiced, it could see the holy land ahead, and "The Gazelle" was going to take them to it.

But then, things started to fall apart in 1988.  The goals started to dry up, tension with the coach, the fans were disillusioned and then, a fist fight with Boomer over a missing pair of socks spelled his undoing.

It was not to be, the Stanley Cup dream of the 80's were shattered.

Courntall was traded to Montreal and became apart of the Leafs scrape heap of history.

And so, we come to the new golden hair boy Phil Kessel, the new, Russ Courntall.

Will, the People's Prince rise up and become the King of T.O? Or will he, as with The Gazelle be just a pretender.

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