Phil Kessel is the NHL’s unlikely Ironman

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Last evening in San Jose, Vegas Golden Knights ahead Phil Kessel performed in his 990th consecutive regular-season sport, breaking the NHL document set by Keith Yandle final season. Given the 35-year-old Kessel’s comparatively comfortable physique and legendarily questionable weight loss program, his ascension to the title of NHL Ironman must be one in every of the most unbelievable feats in hockey. But there’s extra to Kessel than meets the eye. In honour of his consecutive-games streak and his four-hundredth NHL aim, which he scored final evening, listed below are a number of enjoyable Phil info:

He’s an unbelievable athlete… Kessel’s doughy (for a professional hockey participant) 5-foot-11, 208-pound physique and receding hairline belie some severe bodily items. Before getting into the NHL, the proficient Wisconsinite was touted as the subsequent nice American star. He racked up 286 factors in an 86-game season at the bantam degree, then went on to document 51 factors in 39 video games as an 18-year-old freshman at the University of Minnesota in 2005-06. That identical season, he beat out Russian phenom Evgeni Malkin for the world junior championship scoring title with 11 factors in seven video games. Scouts there known as Kessel the quickest participant in the event and raved about his shot. Just a few months later, the Boston Bruins drafted him fifth general. Sixteen years later, he is one in every of simply 12 U.S.-born gamers to succeed in the 400-goal mark.

…and never simply on the hockey rink. Besides his prowess on the ice, teammates rave about Kessel’s talents in the weight room, on the golf course and even in additional cardiovascularly demanding sports activities like basketball and soccer. “He’s extremely athletic,” former teammate Blake Wheeler advised Sportsnet’s Kristina Rutherford. “He’s the sort of man that, he is good at every little thing he does.” By all accounts from guys who’ve performed with him, Kessel is straightforward to get together with too.

The begin of his professional profession was marred by well being issues. Here’s one more reason why the concept of “Phil Kessel: Ironman” as soon as appeared so unlikely. A few months into his rookie season with the Bruins, Kessel underwent surgical procedure for testicular most cancers. But he returned to the lineup only a month later and performed in practically each Boston sport the remainder of that season and all 82 the subsequent (maybe an early indication of the Ironman in the making). Kessel missed a dozen video games in 2008-09, after which he was traded to Toronto. His Leafs debut was delayed as a result of low season shoulder surgical procedure that prompted him to overlook the first 12 video games. Kessel lastly suited up for Toronto on Nov. 3, 2009. He hasn’t missed a sport since.

The Ironman streak spans practically 13 years and 4 groups. Despite averaging greater than 30 targets per season (together with a lockout-shortened one) in his six years with the Leafs, Kessel’s tenure there ended badly as his laid-back character proved a troublesome match with Toronto’s tightly wound followers, media and group. After the Leafs traded him to Pittsburgh in a wage dump throughout the 2015 low season, Kessel acquired the final snigger by promptly profitable back-to-back Stanley Cups. Sidney Crosby took the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP each years, however Kessel had a powerful case in 2016 when he led the Penguins in targets (10) and factors (22). He was wonderful the following 12 months too, notching eight targets and 23 factors in the post-season. After Pittsburgh, Kessel spent three years in the desert (actually and metaphorically) with lowly Arizona, the place he had a good 52 factors final season. Say what you’ll about the Coyotes (and we have now) however they helped Kessel preserve his streak alive final March by permitting him to play only one shift in a sport at Detroit earlier than hopping on a chartered flight organized by the crew so he might be part of his longtime girlfriend for the beginning of their first youngster. If you depend playoff video games, Kessel has now performed in 1,071 consecutive contests. To put that in perspective, solely 9 per cent of present NHL gamers have been in the league when his streak started in November 2009.

Yes, his weight loss program might use some work. Though he simply turned a father about eight months in the past, Kessel has carried a dad bod for some time, thanks considerably to his infamous style for junk meals. Toronto sportswriter Steve Simmons is nonetheless getting dunked on for his long-ago accusation that Kessel was overfrequenting the metropolis’s scorching canine stands (a dig that Phil deliciously trolled after profitable the Cup), however there’s at the very least a (popcorn) kernel of reality to that probably apocryphal story. In an age the place many professional athletes are extraordinarily cautious about what they eat, Kessel’s teammates inform of a Sour Patch Kids fanatic whose dorm room at the Sochi Olympics was suffering from sweet wrappers and who favored to drink Coke between durations. But that propensity to pig out is a function, not a bug, on the subject of Kessel’s attraction. His Hall of Fame case could also be a bit skinny as he is by no means come near profitable a significant regular-season particular person award, however hockey followers can by no means appear to get their fill of Phil.

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