Why Phil Kessel Is Awesome (And Why You Should Think So Too)

By: Steve Kitagawa

Phil Kessel beat cancer during his rookie season and went on to become a five time thirty goal scorer and two time Stanley Cup Champion on his own terms.  In spite of being one of the most prolific goal scorers of his generation, Phil has been oft maligned, bullied, and minimized by the press, the fans, the NHL, and even his peers simply because he’s not your typical pro athlete.  With a physique more akin to Phil Mickelson than Tiger Woods and a hairline that looks like a Bosley for men ad, Phil has always been an easy target.  What makes Phil awesome is that he owns it (even his bad breath).  Moreover, since winning his first Stanley Cup in the 2015/2016 season, he has absolutely come into his own, confronting his critics, and ruling at life.  This past season, he was one of the top ten scorers in the league.  Even after such a prolific season, the Penguins early exit from the playoffs have many critics coming forward criticizing his play.  Moreover, there is a rumor that Phil and his coach Mike Sullivan got into a rift during the playoffs, leading to speculation he maybe traded in the off season.  This is simply the drama that seems to follow Phil. Here are some of the reasons why Phil Kessel is awesome.

Pure Talent

Phil is a pure goal scorer with soft mitts (ridiculous stickhandling ability), blinding speed, and the innate ability to know what to do to score in any situation.

There’s a strong argument that with 10 goals in the Pittsburg Penguins 2015-2016 Stanley Cup run, Phil should have been the Conn Smythe winner (MVP of the playoffs).

Phil Understands What It Is Like To Be Bullied

He Was The Last Pick In The 2011 All Star Team Selection.

For some demented reason, the NHL in 2011, decided to institute a horrific schoolyard draft to pick the teams in its annual all-star game.  What could go wrong?  A quick google search of Picked Last, reveals a plethora of results ranging from books (The Last Boys Picked) to articles  to an insprirational video about NBA superstar Isaiah Thomas, all related to the psychology of being the last one picked.  The one universal axiom that runs through each of the search results is that being the last one picked is a fucked-up practice that actually fucks you up.  Notwithstanding the NHL thought this was pure gold marketing genius until as recent as the 2015/2016 all-star game.

There are so many cringe worthy moments in this video.  First, Phil’s all-star peers are universally reveling in his discomfort, leaving Phil to nervously smile as he waits for an eternity to be called as the last pick. Steve Stamkos (number 91 directly behind the announcer) might have just smoked a fatty or his Xanex was kicking in because he doesn’t stop smiling the entire time.  More likely he is scheming about how he is going to threaten the Lightning that he is going to leave for the Leafs in order to drive up the value of his upcoming free agent negotiations.  Alexander Ovechkin is shown smiling, dentures out, taking a flip phone video of Phil trying to be a good sport, but obviously thinking, like anyone would, “Lets just get this fucking over with already.”  After Patrick Kane (the short guy with the mullet wearing the 88 jersey) makes a disingenuous comment about being happy to pick Phil and picks Phil, it appears the torture is over.  Phil shakes hands with the team captains, grabs his jersey, fumbles to put it on, fails, and rushes up the steps in the background toward his seat while still struggling to put on his jersey in hopes this will all be over by the time he sits down.  The announcer, however, is relentless, repeatedly calling Phil to “come down here” in the ear biting tone of your mom when you did something wrong.  When Phil finally acknowledges him and comes down, the announcer then repeatedly baits him, reminding Phil that he was the last one picked, that it sucked, and that the last three minutes of mental torture was not meant to be malicious in any way, but was all in good fun.  He even has the balls to ask him whether it was nerve racking to be the last pick. I’m still not exactly sure what a micro-aggression is, but I’m almost certain that you could write a doctoral thesis about it based on the comments of the announcer in this video.

The announcer then states that because Phil was such a great sport, $20,000.00 will be donated to the charity of his choice.  Everyone, including Phil then seems happy until the announcer also announces that Phil will be receiving a car for being picked last.  A quick pan of the players sitting in the background shows a mix of smiles, confusion, and anger.   The most obvious reaction is one of the Sedin sisters, Henrik (number 33) looking to the side and to the back in an attempt to find a fellow hater ally, all the while possessing an “Are you fucking kidding me” expression, hating on Phil.  It doesn’t show on video, but I’m sure he locks eyes with his twin Daniel, who then winks blows him a kiss, and mouth’s the words “Olive juice,” and everything is better.

Controlled By His Id (Impulses)

Freud would have loved to analyze Phil.  Moreover, the average fuck up can relate to Phil because Phil can empathize with the average fuck up.  This classic interview with Pierre McGuire about Phil’s breath says it all.

Phil is also a super fan as this picture with Phil and 2013 National League MVP Andrew McCutchen would suggest.  He is such a super fan that like many of us, who if given the opportunity to get into an MLB clubhouse, he stole as much shit as he could.  Check his stuffed pockets.  The best thing is, that there is no way he planned to swipe shit beforehand because if he did, he would have worn oversized Dickies instead of his eighties-hair-band-fit, hope-I-don’t-get-a-boner jeans.  Girlfriend jeans or not, nothing was going to stop him from getting his clubhouse souvenirs.

His Social Media Game is on point

Despite being one of the greatest American born players and Stanley Cup Champion, Phil was not picked to represent team USA in the World Cup of Hockey Tournament.  After the USA was eliminated by Team Canada, Kessel made this classic tweet.

An Elite Athlete That Loves Plain Hot Dogs

Phil’s day with the Stanley Cup in August 2017 included Phil taking an Instagram picture of himself holding a hot dog, with Lord Stanley’s filled with hotdogs.  While hilarious on its own, this was also a genius troll of Toronto reporter Steve Simmons, who fabricated a story (right after Phil was traded from Toronto to Pittsburg) about Phil visiting a hot vendor in Toronto every day while living in Toronto.

A Guy You’d Want To Hang Out With

Check out this video from HBO’s 24/7 when Phil was playing for the Leafs.  This guy is gold.

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