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Monday’s Morning Mashup: Phil Kessel in middle of Maple Leafs-Sabres brawl

09.23.13 at 8:14 am ET
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Welcome to Monday’s Morning Mashup. For the latest news, start at our WEEI.com home page or click here for the top stories from our news wire.

MONDAY’S BROADCAST HIGHLIGHTS:
NFL: Raiders at Broncos, 8:25 p.m. (ESPN)
NHL preseason: Capitals at Bruins, 7 p.m. (NESN, NHL Network)
NHL preseason: Coyotes at Canucks, 10 p.m. (NHL Network)
WNBA playoffs: Phoenix at Los Angeles. 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

AROUND THE WEB:

• Someone forgot to the tell the Maple Leafs and Sabres that the regular season has not yet started. The teams engaged in an all-out brawl Sunday, and the man in the middle of it all was Phil Kessel.

Sabres behemoth John Scott attempted to engage Kessel to avenge a mismatch moments earlier, but the Leafs forward would have none of it, instead whacking Scott in the leg with his stick twice — including once from behind while Scott was locked up with another Toronto player. Kessel later poked Scott with his stick while the 6-foot-8 defenseman was being restrained.

Kessel received a match penalty for swinging his stick — and awaits further punishment from the league — but the former Bruin was quick to place the blame on Buffalo afterward.

“It was pretty stupid, right? He said he was going to jump me,” said Kessel, who is eight inches shorter than Scott. “What are you going to do? He’s a big boy, so if he’s coming after me, what are you going to do?”

The Sabres were unhappy that moments before, Toronto’s Jamie Devan, who stands 6-foot-5, fought Buffalo 6-footer Corey Tropp, who let the ice bleeding — although the Leafs contended that Tropp instigated that fight.

“That guy’s a big guy, 6-foot-5,” Sabres coach Ron Rolston said of Devan. “And [Tropp's] a smaller guy, but certainly a battler. So guys weren’t happy about it.”

The brawl was capped by a goalie fight between Toronto’s Jonathan Bernier and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller.

“I just asked him if he wanted to go, and obviously I don’t think he seemed that he actually wanted to go, but that’s the way it goes,” Bernier said. “It’s a hockey game, but you get hyper in energy and I wanted to defend my teammates.”

• A couple of NFC powerhouses apparently are having some in-house issues after facing adversity early in the season.

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers and coach Mike McCarthy argued on the sideline during Sunday’s 34-30 loss to the Bengals, and the QB acknowledged after the game the discussion was about play-calling.

“We’re both passionate about the game and competitive,” Rodgers said. “We want to win very badly and, you know, I went over and talked to him after that. Just got on the same page. Needed to talk; we did, and we moved on.”

Meanwhile, in San Francisco, where the top story was the leave of absence for All-Pro linebacker Aldon Smith — who was arrested Friday morning for suspicion of DUI and marijuana possession but played Sunday — running back Frank Gore reportedly had some choice words for coach Jim Harbaugh during a 27-7 loss to the visiting Colts that left the Niners at 1-2 — the first time the 49ers have been under .500 during Harbaugh’s tenure.

Gore had 11 rushes for 82 yards along with two catches for 21 yards, leading to questions as to why he only touched the ball 13 times. He offered no answers after the game, saying: “I’ve got to watch the film.”

The Niners have been outscored 56-10 in their last two games.

“We felt flat,” cornerback Tarell Brown said. “We felt flat and looked flat.”

Jeannie Buss, daughter of the late Lakers owner Jerry Buss, wrote in her updated memoir, “Laker Girl,” that she was “stunned” when her brother, Jim Buss, decided to hire Mike D’Antoni as coach after reaching out to Jeannie’s fiancé, Phil Jackson.

Although she claims she wants her brother “to realize that I’m not the enemy,” Jeannie takes him to task for getting Jackson excited about returning to the organization only to let him down.

Wrote Buss: The sequence of events — Phil almost coming back and then being told someone else was better for the job — practically destroyed me. It almost took away my passion for this job and this game. It felt like I had been stabbed in the back. It was a betrayal. I was devastated.

I felt that I got played. Why did they have to do that? Why did Jim pull Phil back into the mix if he wasn’t sincere about it?

Phil wasn’t looking for the job, and then he wasted 36 hours of his life preparing for it when they were never in a million years going to hire him anyway.

How do you do that to your sister? How do you do that to Phil Jackson?

I hope the flirtation with Phil wasn’t just a PR stunt. I still can’t get my head around the whole story.

ON THIS DAY TRIVIA (answer below): On Sept. 23, 1969, Dick Williams was dismissed as Red Sox manager. Who replaced him for the remainder of the season?

QUOTE OF THE DAY: “The energy that’s created here and the way the guys embrace it, it has been our advantage once again. We have heard a lot lately about the last couple of Septembers, but that has not penetrated the minds of anyone in this clubhouse.” – Red Sox manager John Farrell, after Sunday’s 5-2 victory over the Blue Jays

STAT OF THE DAY: 51 – Consecutive games with a touchdown pass for Tom Brady, who threw a pair in Sunday’s 23-3 rout of the Buccaneers

‘NET RESULTS (mobile users, check the website to see the videos): Maple Leafs defenseman Paul Ranger attempts a creative shootout shot by kicking his stick to get the puck on net. Sabres goalie Johnas Enroth was not impressed.

Rice uses some deception to recover an onside kick in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s game vs. Houston.

TRIVIA ANSWER: Eddie Popowski

SOOTHING SOUNDS: Bruce Springsteen was born on this day in 1949.

Read More: aaron rodgers, Frank Gore, Jeannie Buss, Jim Harbaugh Print  |  Email  |  Bark It Up!  |  Digg It