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.
The 1990-91 season didn’t start off particularly well for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Legendary scorer Mario Lemieux was sidelined with a major back injury and the team suffered from a slow start, going 12-16-3 in their first 31 games.
Things seemed to change thanks to three major additions: a healthy Lemieux, a trade that brought in Larry Murphy and an even bigger swap that helped them land Ron Francis. The team took off thanks to those changes, a breakout 113-point season from a young Mark Recchi, a 27-goal rookie season from Jaromir Jagr and timely contributions from a talented supporting cast. That team gelled in the later stages of the season, allowing them to win their division and first-ever Stanley Cup while paving the way for back-to-back championships.
For some, it might be hard to believe that the Penguins and city of Pittsburgh celebrated that Cup victory 20 years ago, but more than 40 former Penguins/staff members gathered at a charitable golf outing to revel in those memories.
“There’s a lot of reminiscing and a lot of laughter. Even after 20 years, the personalities don’t change. The guys that were the jokesters are still the jokesters,” defenseman Larry Murphy said. It brings back a lot of memories.”
Check out video of the event from the Penguins Web site.