Pittsburgh Penguins: Let’s Talk Phil Kessel

PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 11: Phil Kessel
PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 11: Phil Kessel /

Phil Kessel needs to be discussed today.

That does make sense on National Hot Dog Day doesn’t it? Everybody knows he loves his hot dogs right? Most of us have heard the story how Phil Kessel ‘single-handedly kept a particular hot dog vendor in business’ during his time in Toronto.

Pittsburgh Penguins
Pittsburgh Penguins /

Pittsburgh Penguins

Who doesn’t love a good hot dog? Why should Phil Kessel eating a hot dog ever matter and what relevance has it ever had on his play? The fact is athletes like to enjoy food as well.

It was reported Usain Bolt at more than 1,000 Chicken McNuggets during the Olympics in Beijing. Athletes train and burn many more calories each day than the rest of us. They need and can afford to eat a few extra McNuggets, hot dogs, or whatever it may be.

It is a shame that Kessel was treated the way he was by certain elements of the media in Toronto. Why was body-shaming acceptable in this case?While he may not have the ‘ideal’ look of an athlete, Kessel has proven himself to be a top-notch athlete and obviously goes to great lengths in order to keep himself in shape.

He is coming off his 7th consecutive regular season without missing a single game. That does not sound like a guy that does not train right.

A Problem in Pittsburgh?

Unfortunately, some of the criticism Kessel brought with him from Toronto is again poking its’ head out in certain parts of the Pittsburgh media. Rich Tocchet leaving Pittsburgh immediately led to Phil Kessel supposedly being moved out of Pittsburgh, almost like it was some package deal.

Kessel may not have Evgeni Malkin’s personality and will never be the media darling that Sidney Crosby is, but it is absurd to believe that a ‘Phil Kessel-Whisperer’ is needed in order for him and the Penguins to be successful moving forward. There also haven’t been a lot of stories to suggest he is any sort of bad teammate either.

He may not have had a 30 goal season since joining the Pens, but he doesn’t need to score that many goals here. While ‘only’ scoring 23 goals this year, he did set a career-high with 47 assists and finished third on the team with 70 points. That’s pretty good production and that does not even speak to what he has meant in the playoffs.

Yes, his cap hit is significant at $6.8 million. However, there may not be a better third head for this monster with Sid and Geno. Even bringing in multiple pieces will in place of that cap space is not going to make another Stanley Cup more likely. The Penguins would be really good without Kessel, but they certainly would not be any better.

Now, go eat a hot dog!