Tha Sports Junkies 101

Phil Kessel, Hardships to Stanley Cup Glory

Phil Kessel, Hardships to Stanley Cup Glory Sarah A./via Flickr


Phil Kessel, once deemed “uncoachable” by former Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Ron Wilson, is seeing much success.

Kessel was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins for youth in the summer of 2015. The trade was the biggest thing out of Leafs Nation since the signing of now head coach Mike Babcock. Many Leaf fans vilified Kessel for being “lazy” or as stated before “uncoachable,” based on accusations from Wilson and the harsh Toronto media.

Since the trade, the Toronto Maple Leafs were dead last in 2015-16 and won the draft lottery. However, this past season would see the Leafs make the playoffs.

Benefiting well from this trade though? Kessel’s quality of play. To the surprise of many, Kessel was a picture perfect addition to the Penguins lineup. In his first year with his new team, he would see 26 goals and 33 assists, tallying 59 points.

However, it was not his regular season play that would take people by storm. As everyone knows, the Penguins are currently the defending Stanley Cup Champions and Kessel played a big part in making that happen.

During the Penguins’ Stanley Cup run last year, Kessel netted 10 goals and marked 12 assists, giving him 22 points. Many felt he would win the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP, but Penguins captain Sidney Crosby took that honor. Nonetheless, Phil Kessel was now a Stanley Cup Champion, even taking to Twitter to show off his fancy new championship ring.

The season of 2016-17 would see his regular season play improve just a little more. He would net 23 goals and put up 47 assists (*career high for assists) to tally 70 points. His current season high with points sits at 82 with the 2011-12 Maple Leafs. That season would see him net 37 goals (*career high, also in 2013-14), with 45 assists.

Kessel and the Penguins defeated the Ottawa Senators in double overtime last night to earn a spot in the Stanley Cup Final. He currently sits at seven goals with 12 assists, totaling 19 points. With another potential seven games to go, though, expect those numbers to rise. He is currently on pace to surpass his play of last postseason.

The defending Stanley Cup champions will face off against the Nashville Predators. Game 1 will be in Pittsburgh on Monday, May 29 with an 8 PM EST start.

If the Penguins win, will Kessel hoist the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP?