Phil Kessel; Mike Komisarek

Today marks fifth anniversary of Phil Kessel beating cancer


For whatever reason, Phil Kessel has been a divisive figure in the NHL when he should instead be a source of inspiration.

Just look at his rookie year: character issues were sited as he dropped a bit in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, but that hurdle didn’t compare to what happened about a month into that 2006-07 season. Kessel was diagnosed with testicular cancer in November 2006, yet he only took about two weeks to return from the surgery that resulted.

Today marks the five-year anniversary of Kessel being cancer-free, as TSN’s Katherine Dolan covers in this video.

Kessel already has an assist on a Joffrey Lupul goal, pushing his points total to an astounding 37. Obviously, that battle with a scary disease is far behind him, but it makes his amazing season that much more impressive.

Pass Phil Kessel in the points race at your own peril

Phil Kessel

Little did you know that the injuries sweeping through the NHL’s top scorers all have one thing in common: Phil Kessel.

Michael Finewax, one of our friends from Rotoworld, points out that anyone who has dared to pass Kessel in points or goals have all suffered for their insolence.

Claude Giroux passed Kessel in points and eight days later was knocked out indefinitely with a concussion. Milan Michalek passed Kessel in the goal scoring race with his 19th goal of the year and was later knocked out in that game with a concussion. Even Daniel Sedin wasn’t spared as he tied Kessel in points before coming up with back spasms.

Even Sidney Crosby wasn’t spared after the hot start he had in his comeback. Et tu, Phil?

If you’ve got any good “NHL-loves-Toronto” theories, now is the time to throw on the tinfoil hat and run with them because this Kessel plague cannot be stopped. Someone had better get James Neal, Jonathan Toews, and Steve Stamkos to a safe house, pronto.

PHT’s Morning Skate: Phil Kessel’s impressive journey

Phil Kessel

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.

Patrick Kane’s return to right wing might have been the biggest story going into Friday night’s game against the New York Islanders, and he seemed comfortable for sure with two assists. Still, his running mate Jonathan Toews stole the show, with a goal and an assist plus a shootout tally. (CSN Chicago.)

Former Avs blue chips Chris Stewart (one assist) and Kevin Shattenkirk (power-play goal) drew a measure of revenge against their former team, but Colorado won – thanks in large part to Ryan O’Reilly. (Denver Post.)

Sure, the Blues failed in the shootout, but that game would’ve been finished in overtime if Jaroslav Halak didn’t make this deft swipe:

One thought that keeps recurring lately is how people don’t seem to appreciate all that Phil Kessel has gone through to become a league-leading scorer. Lukas Hardonk takes a look at his journey from testicular cancer to red-hot sniper. (The Hockey Writers.)

Brad Richards is enjoying single life in New York, which must have something to do with Olivia Munn, right? (Tampa Bay Online.)

Matt Beleskey’s hit on Sean Couturier might just draw the attention of the Shanahammer, but we’ll see. (Eric Stephens.)

Ryan Jones didn’t just register his first multiple goal game last night; he actually pulled off a hat trick. (

Jones wasn’t the only unlikely guy to score one more than once in that Edmonton Oilers-Columbus Blue Jackets game, though. Derek Dorsett managed two tallies of his one, including this highlight reel piece.

Check out the NHL’s three stars of comedy via Sean McIndoe of “Down Goes Brown.” (Grantland.)

Final thought: if there’s one thing that is driving me nuts, it’s the confusion over the Detroit Red Wings’ streaky play. It’s not a coincidence. Instead, it’s a matter of their schedule. They’re winning when they’re at home (10-2-1) and average on the road (6-5-0). The few diverging points come when they play weak opponents away from Joe Louis Arena, although winning the Thanksgiving Showdown in Boston ranks as a promising break from that trend. (Red Wings schedule.)

Tyler Seguin scores first hat trick in the name of Phil Kessel trade remorse

Boston Bruins v Toronto Maple Leafs

With the sniper galloping to a league-leading 21 points, it’s likely that Phil Kessel trade remorse was at an all-time low in Toronto heading into Saturday’s game against Boston. The needle probably moved back a few notches in the negative direction after Tyler Seguin scored a hat trick as the Bruins beat the Maple Leafs 7-0, though.

As Stanley Cup of Chowder points out, the hat trick takes on greater narrative meaning because Seguin grew up near Toronto and ostensibly could have been theirs if they didn’t make that oft-criticized deal.

In many peoples’ minds, the Bruins already won that deal the moment GM Peter Chiarelli realized he had the second pick in 2010 (while wearing a Maple Leafs-themed tie, no less).* It doesn’t matter much to them that Kessel still has seven more points on the season and his team remains nine points ahead in the standings.

The rest of us will wait for at least the next few years to play out before it is truly known who “won,” so nights like these are interesting battles in that figurative war.

* – Naturally, Kessel and Seguin weren’t the only players involved in that trade, but it’s more fun/cruel to boil it down to fates of those two players, isn’t it?

Phil Kessel is the NHL’s Player of the Month for October

phil kessel drafgt

Millions of people woke up this morning, ate a Kit Kat for breakfast, opened the door to find pumpkin shards and a M-80 casing and realized that yes, October is officially over.

And to celebrate the month that was, the National Hockey League announced that Toronto Maple Leafs RW Phil Kessel has been named October’s Player of the Month.

The decision wasn’t much of a surprise as Kessel finished atop the NHL leaderboard with 10 goals and 18 points in 11 games. Kessel also has five multiple-point games — including two 3-point games and a season-high 4-point game on Oct. 8 against Ottawa — and cemented his name in Leafs lore by scoring five goals in Toronto’s first three games. The only others to do that in the last 66 years? Darryl Sittler and Wendel Clark.

The runner-up to Kessel was Dallas G Kari Lehtonen, who won an NHL-best eight games while posting a 1.75 goals-against average and .947 save percentage. He was instrumental in pacing Dallas to an 8-3-0 record — as a result, the Stars now sit atop the Pacific Division, thanks in large part to Lehtonen averaging 32 saves per game.

October’s third star was Edmonton Oilers G Nikolai Khabibulin, who has come out of nowhere (well, Tent City at Maricopa County Jail) to post a 5-0-2 record with a .902 save percentage and a league-low 1.12 GAA. In doing so, Khabibulin increased his career win total to 321, putting him 20th on the all-time list. The Bulin Wall is now just three back of Sean Burke and should he continue winning games at this rate (hey, he’s on pace for a 59-0 record this year) he could jump past Rogatien “Rogie” Vachon — he of the 355 career victorites — for 16th all-time.