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Phil Kessel Is A Champion

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

One of the NHL's most polarizing figures of the past decade pinched his eyes to try to stop the tears, the hugs from his family members only making it harder to do so.

Phil Kessel, Stanley Cup champion, playoff warrior, and now forever more seen in a different light.

"I mean, it's an unbelievable feeling, obviously it's special," said the teary-eyed Kessel as his Pittsburgh Penguins teammates celebrated with friends and family Sunday night on the ice at SAP Center following a 3-1, Game 6 win over the San Jose Sharks.

"It's been a journey," Kessel later added, a lump in his throat.

Booed out of Boston and then out of Toronto, the much-maligned and perhaps misunderstood Kessel was clutch all spring long, leading the Penguins in scoring with 22 points (10-12) in 24 games.

continued

Below, watch Kessel's on-ice interview with Jeremy Roenick...

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

Comments

Primis's avatar

Does it hurt, Leafs fans?

It’s supposed to.

Posted by Primis on 06/13/16 at 07:56 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

If only St. Babs arrived earlier

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie, MI on 06/13/16 at 08:16 AM ET

Avatar

To be a witness to Steve Simmons crying himself to sleep would’ve been wonderful.

If only St. Babs arrived earlier

I imagine his crying jag was similar to yours every time anyone says anything remotely positive about Mike Babcock.

Posted by Garth on 06/13/16 at 09:01 AM ET

KelseyAnn's avatar

Is it just me or would Kessel have been a better choice for Conn Smythe over Crosby? I’ll admit that I didn’t follow the Finals very closely, so perhaps I am simply misinformed. I’d like to hear what the Pens fans on these boards think since I know they were paying a lot more attention.

From what I saw of Pittsburgh’s games over the playoffs in general, as well as the little bit of the Finals that I caught, I thought there were several players on that team that had a bigger impact than Crosby. In fact, wasn’t one of the big narratives throughout their run the fact that they were winning games despite Crosby (and Malkin for that matter) not playing like world beaters? And wasn’t another narrative that the HBK line was their best line most nights?

If I were making the decision, I would have picked Kessel - or maybe even Murray - as the Conn Smythe winner.

Posted by KelseyAnn from Ahwatukee, Arizona on 06/13/16 at 09:47 AM ET

KelseyAnn's avatar

Not to mention, a Conn Smythe on top of a Stanley Cup for Kessel would have just been a cherry on top…

Posted by KelseyAnn from Ahwatukee, Arizona on 06/13/16 at 09:50 AM ET

OlderThanChelios's avatar

I imagine his crying jag was similar to yours every time anyone says anything remotely positive about Mike Babcock.

Posted by Garth on 06/13/16 at 10:01 AM ET

Come on, Red Winger, by now you know better than to say anything negative about Babcock or anything positive about Tangradi. Both of those things make flames shoot out of Garth’s ears.  LOL

Posted by OlderThanChelios from Grand Rapids, MI on 06/13/16 at 10:33 AM ET

nEgativezEro's avatar

Is it just me or would Kessel have been a better choice for Conn Smythe over Crosby? I’ll admit that I didn’t follow the Finals very closely, so perhaps I am simply misinformed. I’d like to hear what the Pens fans on these boards think since I know they were paying a lot more attention.

If I were making the decision, I would have picked Kessel - or maybe even Murray - as the Conn Smythe winner.

Posted by KelseyAnn from Ahwatukee, Arizona on 06/13/16 at 10:47 AM ET

While he wasn’t on the scoresheet, Crosby was really strong, especially in the finals (where recency bias definitely plays a factor). Kessel’s 22 points lead the Penguins, and Murray obviously was strong in net. I don’t think either player were far-and-away better than everyone else to secure the vote. Kris Letang would have been a good choice too.

I think it was a combination of Kessel being a little quiet during the Finals, and the Pens being so dominant that Murray didn’t need to do much. Which is silly, considering Murray ALSO had to beat both Washington and Tampa to get there. He was a huge part of that.

Posted by nEgativezEro on 06/13/16 at 11:17 AM ET

duhduhduh's avatar

Posted by nEgativezEro on 06/13/16 at 12:17 PM ET

Unfortunately, you can’t give the Conn Smythe to ‘the wrecking crew’ which is what I thought the cast of role players that, to me, made the difference for Pittsburgh.  Haglin, Bonino, Rust ... Frankly, I thought, throughout the SCP that Crosby and Malkin were not great, and I just don’t know how they even get to the finals without Murray.

Posted by duhduhduh on 06/13/16 at 11:28 AM ET

Nathan's avatar

Let’s be honest, Crosby had a playoff that, in spite of a relatively low point total by his high standards, we’d be gushing about if it were Hank Zetterberg or Pavel Datsyuk. Most nights he was a freaking terror in all three zones. He was making passes every other shift that only Joe Thornton is capable of matching, the guys on the other end just weren’t finishing (or in some case they were passes that did other things like retain possession, escape the D zone, or break through the neutral zone).

It’s also not like the HBK line would’ve fared particularly well if they had to take on the opposition Crosby’s line has to take on—Kessel deserves a ton of credit, but this playoff he had 70% offensive zone starts. Meanwhile, Crosby has developed into the ideal 200 foot player. And for all the totally fair criticism about his immaturity when he was younger, and even his penchant for looking a bit snippy with the officials to this day, it’s hard not to call the guy a leader by example, when he was hopping over the boards in all situations and doing everything asked of him at a well-above-average level, allowing the time and space for guys like HBK to get a little scoring glory.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/13/16 at 12:20 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

If I were making the decision, I would have picked Kessel - or maybe even Murray - as the Conn Smythe winner.

Posted by KelseyAnn from Ahwatukee, Arizona on 06/13/16 at 10:47 AM ET

Maybe the San Jose goal tender? confused

Posted by bigfrog on 06/13/16 at 07:37 PM ET

cigar_nurse's avatar

Kessel was robbed of the Smythe. The league had to pick their “golden boy” instead. One of many wrongs in this league. They just wanted to pad Cindy ‘s resume. Bah

Posted by cigar_nurse from On LTIR for the Greenville Pylons on 06/13/16 at 08:10 PM ET

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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.

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