Kukla's Korner

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Phil Kessel A Different Kind Of Star

from Kristina Rutherford of Sportsnet,

There are things you come to expect from athletes who are the best of the best, like pre-game routines born for bizarre reasons only their elite authors can truly comprehend. And so, when Jamie Oleksiak joined these Pittsburgh Penguins last December, he was a little surprised at the behaviour of one of the team’s stars. Kessel, Oleksiak discovered, is a different bird. “What he does is unique to hockey players, and it definitely has its advantages,” the towering defenceman says. He points out Kessel isn’t one for superstitions or routines like most, but rather, “he just listens to his body,” which must explain why No. 81 is an iron man who hasn’t missed a single game in eight seasons. Says a grinning Oleksiak: “Rest is a weapon, right?”

Well, the benefits of a leisurely approach sure fit with Kessel’s reputation. Cue the memes of the Wisconsin-born winger slamming hot dogs while he sleeps and scores goals (fiction), or slumped over on the bench and breathing heavily after a shift while a teammate playfully nudges him back to life (reality). Kessel has become a fan favourite because of his everyman ways coupled with otherworldly hockey ability. The two-time Stanley Cup champion turns 31 the day before the season starts, and he’s coming off a career-high 92-point campaign, 10 better than the previous best he hit in 2011–12 as a Toronto Maple Leaf. You can point to Kessel’s linemates on the most productive power-play unit in hockey to find the root cause for that extra production, but Crosby and Malkin are also the chief reasons why Kessel’s as comfortable in black-and-yellow as he’s ever been in his pro career. No longer the lone star a Toronto franchise depends on, Kessel is a star among stars. And does the constellation ever suit him.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: phil+kessel

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

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