After winning the Stanley Cup for the first time in his career, proving a point to his critics at the same time, Phil Kessel underwent hand surgery this summer.
That certainly put any chance of his appearance at the World Cup of Hockey for Team USA on ice, after he was initially snubbed from their lineup. As for the beginning of the 2016-17 NHL regular season, Kessel is optimistic he’ll be good to go when it starts next month.
“I’ll obviously be out there skating in camp,” said Kessel, as per the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I’ll progress as it goes. But I’ll be ready to start the first game of the year. … (The hand) feels a lot better now than it did last year.”
Yes, according to Penguins GM Jim Rutherford, Kessel had been dealing with that injured hand for the entire season.
But Kessel’s latest comments represent good news, obviously, for the Penguins. It could be bad news for opposing goalies once the scoring forward gets up to pace.
Kessel scored 26 goals last season — his first in Pittsburgh after he was traded there from Toronto last summer. He followed that up with a 10-goal, 22-point playoff performance that had him in the running for the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Going deep enough into the playoffs to win the Stanley Cup often comes with the cost of stacking up injuries, and the Pittsburgh Penguins paid the price.
As the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and others report, Phil Kessel (wrist) and others aren’t guaranteed to be healthy to start the 2016-17 regular season.
“All the injured guys are tracking in the right direction,” GM Jim Rutherford said. “Until they all get here, we won’t know 100 percent where they’re at, but it sounds like all the guys should be ready for camp.”
The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review runs down a significant list of players who likely accrued bumps and bruises that may carry over:
Defenseman Trevor Daley, for instance, suffered a broken ankle on May 20. Kris Letang (foot), Nick Bonino (elbow infection), Bryan Rust (hand), Patric Hornqvist (hand) and Evgeni Malkin (elbow), among others, dealt with physical problems of varying severity at times.
If recent history is any indication, Kessel will probably fight hard not to miss time.
For all the weird criticisms he receives, he’s been remarkably durable, playing in every game during the past six seasons.
That’s impressive stuff, but the Penguins would be wise to keep an eye on the big picture. If it comes down to making Kessel and others swallow a little pride to limit the odds of aggravating injuries, they need to do it.
Even if it means a bumpy start to their title defense.
On Friday, it was reported that Pittsburgh Penguins forward Phil Kessel underwent hand surgery for an injury sustained in the first round of the playoffs.
Kessel, despite the injury, still had a strong post-season. He scored 10 goals and 22 points in 24 games. Pittsburgh won the Stanley Cup.
But apparently, the injury Kessel had been dealing with was something that had actually been bothering him well before the playoffs even began.
From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
“It was something he dealt with all season,” general manager Jim Rutherford said. “It bothered him. He took care of it. He’s not expect to miss any time.”
Rutherford suggested Kessel initially suffered the injury during the 2015 preseason. The specific hand or the nature of of the injury were not identified.
In his first campaign with the Penguins, Kessel appeared in all 82 regular season games, with 26 goals and 59 points, and appeared in all 24 post-season games.
The Tampa Bay Lightning announced that Ryan Callahan will need five months to recovery from hip surgery.
In case you’re wondering, they’ve already said that Callahan won’t be able to play for Team USA at the World Cup of Hockey.
At least one report indicates that Callahan was struggling with that “lower-body injury” late in the season and into the playoffs:
If five months is accurate – hockey players are known for returning early, as you likely know – then Callahan would miss the first month or two of the 2016-17 season.
There’s not much positive spin from Callahan’s side, yet a few are wondering if this wrong might help correct a perceived wrong: leaving Phil Kessel off Team USA.
Well, if they want Kessel to play, they better send a decent-sized plane.
PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.
Phil Kessel hasn’t finalized his plans yet, but there’s a “good chance” he’ll bring the Stanley Cup to Toronto. (Sportsnet)
The Florida Panthers will hold a Blood Drive on Friday to help the victims of the shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. (Panthers.nhl.com)
Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said he and Mike Yeo “hit it off really well.” (St. Louis Post-Dispatch)
Though there is outside interest, Canucks GM Jim Benning isn’t looking to trade down from the No. 5 selection in the upcoming 2016 NHL Entry Draft. (Dan Murphy)
Should the Calgary Flames pursue a trade for Marc-Andre Fleury? (Calgary Sun)
Construction has started on the Chicago Blackhawks’ new training facility. It’s projected to open in December 2017. (Washington Times)