WATCH: Angry Phil Kessel calls reporter ‘an idiot’ during interview

TORONTO – A conversation about the dismissal of the team’s head coach turned into a testy exchange Tuesday between Maple Leafs’ Phil Kessel and a Toronto reporter.

During the post-practice scrum at the team’s practice facility, Kessel was asked by the Toronto Star’s Dave Feschuk about whether his “uncoachable” nature was partly to blame for Carlyle’s dismissal.

“It’s been suggested that you’re a difficult guy to coach,” Feschuk said. “Is there any truth to that?”

“I don’t think so, but that’s a weird question for you to ask on a day like [this],” Kessel replies.

The Toronto Maple Leafs fired head coach Randy Carlyle Tuesday following what team management said has been an inconsistent beginning to the season so far.

“Well you’re the best player on the team and if the coach just got fired…”

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Kessel bristled at the implication that Carlyle’s dismissal was his fault.

“You think it’s my fault? Is that what you’re saying?”

“I’m saying that people are saying you’re difficult to coach,” Feschuck replied.

A team representative interjects to attempt to end the scrum, but a clearly irritated Phil Kessel has had enough.

“This guy is such an idiot here,” Kessel says “He’s always been like that here.”

“How many bad articles have you [written]?” Kessel asks. “I don’t see any of these other [reporters] disrespecting the guys like you are.”

The Leafs also announced Tuesday that assistant coaches Peter Horachek and Steve Spott will now be handling the coaching duties until a new head coach can be found.

READ MORE: Toronto Maple Leafs fire head coach Randy Carlyle

“Today really was about making the change. We have two quality guys who’ve been head coaches,” said General Manager Dave Nonis. “We’ll approach the coaching duties in the next couple of days.”

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The Leafs (21-16-3) are fourth in the Atlantic Division with 45 points, one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for the second Eastern Conference wild-card berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

With files from Global’s David Shum

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