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Kessel talks Ironman win streak and love for the game on

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The Vegas Golden Knights forward was sitting in a stall at the City National Arena after Friday’s practice and was asked if he remembered the last time he missed an NHL game. Given the fact that he’s on his way to becoming the greatest Iron Man of all time in his NHL, he should know. Most players will.

But Kessel isn’t most players.

“I don’t know,” said the 35-year-old forward. “You need to look into it.”

why couldn’t he know?

Kessel’s longtime agent, Wade Arnott, said, “There’s no doubt that he doesn’t know.” So you may not believe him…but I really believe he doesn’t know about Phil.

“Phil is not someone who looks back at numbers and statistics and all that. He doesn’t look back. He lives in the moment. He lives in the moment.”

perhaps. But Kessel and the moment are on a collision course starting Monday with the Golden Knights’ next game against the Toronto Maple Leafs at his T-Mobile arena. (10 PM ET: ATTSN-RN, TSN-4, ESPN+, SN NOW).

Health permitting, when Kessel takes on the Maple Leafs on the ice, he will play 989 straight games, joining retired defenseman Keith Yandl for the longest winning streak in NHL history. That night he gets the chance to set a record against his San Jose Sharks at his SAP center in San Jose.

The numbers are eye-opening.

For the record (and Kessel’s knowledge), he hasn’t missed a game since the Maple Leafs lost 5-4 to the Montreal Canadiens on October 31, 2009 in a shootout at Bell Center. him in the first month of the season.

Three days later, on November 3rd, a record streak occurred that no one could have predicted at the time, let alone Kessel himself. In fact, he was pummeled by defender Matthias his Orlando in his 2–1 loss to Toronto’s Tampa Bay his Lightning. He was traded from the Boston Bruins to the Maple Leafs on September 18, 2009.

After sitting on the keyster for a few seconds, he brushed himself off and got up. Since then, he’s continued to do the same, and he managed to pull off Yandle’s mark 4,738 days after the streak began.

“I’ve always been a guy who would rather play than sit,” Kessel said in a 10-minute chat with

“That’s basically how it ends, right?”

However, no one knows when the winning streak will end. In fact, if he continues, he’ll be playing in his 1,000th straight game against the Arizona Coyotes on Nov. 17 in Las Vegas.

Even the birth of his first child couldn’t stop the winning streak. On March 8, Kessel, then a Coyote player, returned to Phoenix on a private jet arranged by Arizona owner Alex Meruelo to prepare for the baby’s arrival after playing against the Detroit Red Wings. Still, Coyote coach André Turigny said Kessel wanted to play the entire game.

There was no shortage of bumps and bruises along the way. Alex GorigoskiThe Coyote and his former teammate at the University of Minnesota before that, he said Kessel had a soft tissue injury but refused to skip practices and miss games to heal. During Kessel’s stint with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Rick Totchett, who was his assistant, held positions where Kessel was wallpapered on the board and frequently cross-checked in front of the net. He said it helped that he was unable to put himself in

“There’s a lot of luck involved,” Golden Knights coach Bruce Cassidy said. Lucky in a non-harmful way, they turn and run into someone.

“At the same time, what he’s trying to do is to his credit.”

Kessel can’t remember all the ailments he had to overcome to keep his streak. Neither does he want to.

“There were many,” he said. “But I always said, ‘Don’t do it. I love to play, so I’m going to play.'” I’d rather play than sit in the stands.

Kessel has done just that, scoring 957 points (399 goals, 558 assists) in 1,210 games with the Bruins, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Coyotes and Golden Knights. His career highlights: Helped the Penguins win his Cup in 2016 and Stanley in 2017.

“I’ve had a lot of great teammates and won some cups. I’ve done well, don’t you think?”

Agreed. At the same time, how long does he plan to keep playing after scoring so many hours in his career?

“Unless someone tells me I can’t play anymore,” he laughed.


Kessel’s flirtation with NHL history nearly ended three years before his winning streak began.

His life changed when he was diagnosed with testicular cancer on December 11, six months after the Bruins selected him with the fifth overall pick in the 2006 NHL Draft. Missed 11 games on January 9.

“Can you imagine, you’re only 19, you’re still in your teens, and you’re finally realizing your dream of playing in the NHL, and then your whole life is rocking like that?” Arnott said. Said. “I remember being in Boston, being in the hospital, being at his bedside.

“Thankfully he returned safely. But he changed. How could he not?”

Indeed, Kessel’s view of the world would be forever changed by this experience.

“It’s not easy,” he said. “It opens your eyes quickly. You learn and you grow pretty quickly. It changed who I am. In that sense, it changes your outlook on life a little bit.”

“Obviously you never know what will happen in life. Life is short. For me it was important to play. I enjoyed playing, and I still enjoy playing.Look back at what you did, and it just made other things irrelevant.”

The “other things” that Kessel refers to are public attention. He never liked the spotlight.

Kessel said her battle with cancer made her understand what was important. Fame, notoriety, those kinds of things, he said, are not.

“I never cared what anyone said except friends, family and teammates,” Kessel said. “A lot of people don’t know me personally. A lot of people who talk about me don’t necessarily know the hockey game, so they just look at it that way.

“I’ve never paid much attention to what they say.”

Coyote general manager Bill Armstrong said Kessel’s public image is very different from the person behind his dressing room door. Signed a one-year, $1.5 million contract with the Golden Knights on August 24.

“Phil was great,” said Armstrong. “He was a big part of our organization. He’s a very interesting person. I think he’s been misunderstood many times.”


Armstrong said, “I think I just have to have conversations with Phil when he goes through certain times when he may not be playing well.”

“He’s annoyed. People take it like he doesn’t care, but I don’t think it does at all. I think he cares almost too much. I think he almost cares.” I think you take on too much and shut it down.And if “You didn’t read it right.You can see it like laziness or something else.But what you ask Phil is what Phil does. Phil sat with me and I said, get the points, he went out and made it.

“I think Phil has a lot of good things about him. Believe it or not, he is the epitome of skating for his age and skill level. I am thrilled he got the chance to go to Vegas. .”

So far, Kessel has become one of the Golden Knights’ most popular players.

‘Anyone who knows Phil on the ice, he’s great in the locker room,’ says Vegas defenseman Alex Pietrangelo Said. “He’s a welcome addition to us because everyone wants to be by his side.”

Cassidy noticed it too.

“People love Phil here,” he said. “He has a different sense of humor. He lights up the room. I enjoy spending time with him. He loves to talk hockey. He loves Vegas.” I think he was a good person for me.”

“I’ve spoken to different people about how he’s helped different locker rooms.”

So far, in his brief stint in Vegas, Kessel has shown that he can tell a joke just as well.

Here is an example.

Kessel was never known for his defensive skills. His plus minus his NHL career his rating is minus 148, not a number like considering Selke his trophy awarded to his top defensive forward in the NHL.

no matter. When he made some good backcheck plays early in his stint with the Golden Knights, his teammates quickly came up with a new nickname.

From that point on, he became known as “Selke” in his Vegas dressing room.


At first glance, we’ll be the first to tell you that Kessel isn’t the poster child for bodybuilding magazine covers.

He is 5ft 11 and 208lbs. Tochet joked that at times in Kessel’s career he has a bit of a potbelly. Social media sometimes went viral for his perceived penchant for hot dogs.

Few types of sculpted physical stature seem to belong to a player trying to become the greatest Ironman of all time in the NHL.

“I’m a hockey player, basically that’s who I am,” Kessel said. “You’re just a hockey player, right?” “Various shapes and sizes.”

In his case, looks can be deceiving.

“Well, in that regard, look at his numbers and how good a skater he is,” said Pietrangelo. not.

“Look at him. He’s much stronger than I am. There’s a reason he’s an elite skater, right?

coyote defenseman Shane Gostisvihear I think he knows why.

“Phil’s knock is that he’s not doing well, blah, blah, blah,” Gostisbehere said. I have stronger legs than anyone else.

“I mean, the picture of the hot dog, the aura around him, that’s what the media and everybody is doing. They’re creating a bubble around him…but every player who’s ever played with him knows the real Phil.”

As Kessel approaches the record, he becomes superstitious about it. He doesn’t want to discuss it or hear it from those around him in case it jinxes his cheating on history.

But that doesn’t take away from what he’s trying to achieve.

“It’s really unbelievable when you think about it,” the linemate said. Jack Eachelsaw Kessel play for the Bruins as a New England boy. It’s pretty impressive to do.”

You won’t hear Kessel boast about it.

“I just want to be known as a good teammate,” he said. “And I still enjoy the game.

“As long as that’s the case, I’m going to keep doing it.”