The Unusual Phil Kessel | Showing Comments:

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6/2/18 7:36 PM Quote
Hard to believe a guy who looks like Phil Kessel can be a professional athlete at the level he performs.

He's also known to have a personality that's off the beaten path, especially for a jock.

These days, he's known for his uninspired performance for the Penguins in the 2018 NHL playoffs, which saw the Capitals finally bump off Pittsburgh.

But there appears to be a lot of dust wafting up from Kessel's playoff performance. And some of that dust may be radioactive.

Trade winds are blowing in the steel city, and Kessel's name is front and center. Penguins' head coach Mike Sullivan was a grinding fourth liner in his NHL playing days and it is suggested that Sullivan does not buy the idea that Kessel was playing hurt during the post season, thought by some to be the reason for curtailing his talents.

Sullivan--like any professional coach--much choose his battles carefully. Long time Pittsburgh sports scribe Ron Cook said it is likely the highly coveted coach would win this battle, meaning Kessel could be out the door.

Another theory concerning Kessel's poor playoffs suggests he was pouting because he was taken off his usual line with Evgeni Malkin and put on a line with Derick Brassard, who was acquired in a late season deal with Ottawa.

But Sullivan may be using Kessel as a scapegoat for poor player deployment decisions.

Pens historian Bob Grove said Kessel is a player who's no good away from the puck. Doesn't hit, doesn't check, doesn't block shots, doesn't back check, etc., said Grove.

I had thought that Kessel--judging by his body type, might just be a guy who would age out prematurely, not unlike the great Red Army forward Vladimir Krutov, who basically ate himself into retirement by his late 20s.

When Kessel was no longer on a line with Malkin--or for that matter Sidney Crosby--he may have been exposed as another dependent, one trick pony.

But the jury is still out.

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