While Bruins fans are getting a pretty hearty chuckle out of Phil Kessel’s “Mr. Irrelevant” status from last night’s NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft in Raleigh, I’m left scratching my head.
To me, the All-Star Game is the one game you want a player like the former Bruins and current Toronto winger on your side if you want to win. The All-Star Game is the classic, non-contact, non-aggression hockey outing, so who better to star in it than one of the league’s fastest players equipped with one of the league’s best wrist shots who doesn’t even like to get bumped in a crowded mall, let alone the slot area of the rink?
Obviously, the captain committees for Team Lidstrom and Team Staal didn’t agree with my assessment of Kessel, who in 49 games this season has collected 34 points (19 goals) and a minus-19 rating. I wonder when the last time Nicklas Lidstrom played with a guy who’s minus-19.
Anyway, at least Kessel getting picked last by Team Lidstrom gave the world another opportunity to have Kessel in the spotlight get interviewed, so he could show off his glowing personality.
“I didn’t really care [being the last pick],” Kessel said. “I’m just having fun with it. It’s an honor to be here. When I was a kid, I never would’ve dreamed of being here … I don’t care at all. Like it’s not a big deal for me. This is fun. We come here just to have a good time, play a game and not worry too much. This is our break, right? We’re just here to have a good time.”
Basically, Kessel’s answers are a Mad Libs where he inserts situation, the team/opponent and the word fun. Just like when he comes to Boston and “doesn’t care about playing the Bruins.” Whatever. No doubt, the new car he received for sitting through all the other picks softened the blow on his ego.
That said, I expect that Sunday’s game will be a showcase of sorts for Kessel. There will still be attention on him as the last guy picked, and despite his efforts to take things in stride he’ll definitely want to rise above the rest of the stars and make some magic happen with the puck. Luckily for him, unlike his attempts to prove the Bruins were wrong in head-to-head match-ups, Kessel won’t have to worry about physical play and a defense focused on him — although he will have to contend with Team Staal defenseman Zdeno Chara.
Laugh if you will at Kessel, but Team Lidstrom and the Leafs winger might get the last chuckle Sunday.