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Report: Phil Kessel undergoes hand surgery

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Phil Kessel had a very impressive post-season, scoring 10 goals and 22 points in 24 games, moving him into the Conn Smythe Trophy conversation.

The Pittsburgh Penguins won the Stanley Cup, and Kessel was a large part of their success playing on that vaunted HBK Line.

It’s been less than a month since the Penguins hoisted hockey’s silver chalice, but there was some summer news about Kessel on Friday.

This is interesting on a couple of fronts.

Kessel was originally left off the Team USA roster for the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, but there had been talk that hip surgery for Ryan Callahan — and apparently five months recovery — could open the door for Kessel, especially given his work in the playoffs.

Now, will this reported hand surgery impact his chances of being named to the roster as a replacement after all? There has yet to be a timeline established for recovery, but the tournament begins in September.

The other?

Well, Kessel’s character has often been questioned and criticized, particularly when he was traded from Toronto to Pittsburgh last summer. Just typing ‘Phil Kessel’ and ‘character’ together into Google can be fascinating.

You, by now, know of this column in the Toronto Sun. Here’s a passage:

Sick of his act. Tired of his lack of responsibility. Unwilling to begin any reset or rebuild with their highest-paid, most talented, least-dedicated player. He didn’t eat right, train right, play right. This had to happen for Brendan Shanahan to begin his rebuilding of the Leafs. Separation between the Leafs and Kessel became necessary when it grew more and more apparent with time that everything Shanahan values was upended by Kessel’s singular, laissez-faire, flippant, mostly uncoachable ways.

So, based on the report above, Kessel was playing through an injury for the final three rounds of the playoffs. He was not only able to play, but he was highly productive.

Related:

Kessel’s ‘years in this league haven’t been easy, but now he’s got his name on the Cup’

Cooper: Kessel ‘probably doesn’t get near the respect he deserves’

Quick hits: Why Phil Kessel skipped a Stephen Colbert appearance

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Let’s gather a few smaller stories to save some time, shall we?

Nick Bonino apparently informed the Pardon My Take podcast that “The HBK Line” was supposed to appear on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert. The show sent a jet that can accommodate eight people, and Kessel wasn’t comfortable getting on a plane that small.

Rather than fussing with Carl Hagelin and Bonino about it, Kessel “just went to sleep and that was it.”

Splendid. We might need a Kessel reality show, which the sniper would probably detest.

  • In less amusing news, the Florida Panthers re-signed Connor Brickley.

This is what the one-year, two-way deal looks like:

  • Finally, the Edmonton Oilers re-signed Tyler Pitlick for one year.

Injuries have really stalled his career, so this could be an important “prove it” contract.

(Hopefully most of us hold safer jobs.)

John Scott wants to make his own World Cup team with Phil Kessel

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The 2016 All-Star game MVP is interested in making his own World Cup team with the top forward from the 2014 Olympics. Sounds good, doesn’t it?

John Scott took to Instagram to announce that he wanted to join forces with his buddy Phil Kessel. The post was accompanied by a picture of Scott going after Kessel, after this stick-swinging incident from a few years back.

The team doesn’t have a name (Scott says he’s open to suggestions) or any other players, but Scott knows what kind of guys he’s looking for.

“We are looking for guys who want to compete and may have been overlooked in hockey,” said Scott in the post.

Here’s the full post:

This sounds like a really good idea.

Video: Phil Kessel displays incredible hand-eye coordination on goal

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This has been a tough postseason for Phil Kessel haters.

The supposed “choker” is on a team that’s in the Eastern Conference Final, but Kessel obviously isn’t just in for the ride with the Pittsburgh Penguins. He scored his 18th point in 17 postseason games by scoring the 1-0 goal against the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 6.

(Watch that goal in the video above.)

It was a dramatic first period, with a Jonathan Drouin goal getting disallowed and Andrei Vasilevskiy making some huge saves on tough chances.

Can Pittsburgh protect this slim lead with 1-0 down one period? We’ll see, but either way, what a great postseason for Kessel.

Update: Here’s the goal Kessel accidentally “scored” for the Lightning:

Ouch.

Video: Phil Kessel steals the show for Penguins

Phil Kessel has always put up solid numbers in his NHL career, but that hasn’t necessarily endeared him to the fans of the teams he’s played for.

In Toronto, Kessel found the back of the net 30, 32, 37, 20 (lockout year), 37 and 25 times in six seasons. You’d think that those numbers would be good enough to keep fans and the media off his back. But it didn’t.

“For some reason, lots of people don’t like Phil Kessel,” Pens GM Jim Rutherford said, per USA Today. “He was the best player Toronto had for eight years. Year in and year out and he got the blame for everything, which was unfair. He’s a very talented player. We all know he can score. But he’s a playmaker as well. He can pass the puck as well as just about anybody in this league.”

Last summer, the Leafs and Kessel finally parted ways, as Toronto sent him packing for Pittsburgh. The 28-year-old didn’t post career numbers in 2015-16, but something seems to have clicked in the playoffs. Now that Kessel isn’t the number one offensive threat on his team anymore, he’s been able to avoid the more difficult matchups in the postseason and it’s led to better production.

The Pens winger has seven goals and 16 points in 14 games in the 2016 playoffs. No player on the Penguins roster has more goals or points than Kessel so far this spring.