Phil Kessel shows the beauty and horror that lies at the heart of hockey in Toronto. The more that media hated him, the more a staunchly loyal set of fans loved him. He exposed the pettiness and resentment at the heart of hockey reporting even while he remained centered and certain, not bowing to pressures to change. He took himself to Pittsburgh, and with an excellent coach who understood his ability, he was finally given an opportunity to shine. He did so in these playoffs, and we are so, so proud of him. - Achariya Rezak
El Seldo: If that pudgy ginger can win the cup, makes me feel like this one can atleast score a goal in rec league.
Emily: he looks like a red panda, skates like the fucking wind, and has a laser of a shot. how can you not love that? also he has sexy eyes
Phylliskessel: Oh my god
AT Fulemin: Phil is one of those anything-could-happen-at-anytime players. If he's on the ice, there's a chance of something happening with the speed and impact of a lightning bolt. You don't realize how rare and incredible that is until you've watched a team that needs Daniel Winnik to contribute offensively
Phylliskessel: I feel like I joined PPP for this
Kessel hasn't missed a single game for injury in 7 years, and when he did miss games before that it was because HE HAD CANCER! What better leadership message is there for the grart crowd than "I will not miss a single hockey game EVER." - Species
Phil Kessel is the goddamn Everyman. He has the god-given skill of an elite NHL talent, but looks like he's the assistant to the assistant night manager at Best Buy. In a sport in which most players are built like pure tanks, I don't know why more of us celebrate a guy like that.
Also, his talents. His goal-scoring skill is something of beauty to watch. He can create offense seemingly by himself. His wrist shot is so potent, you can't track the puck after release. Just try! It'll be in the net before your eye picks it up again. - Mike
Phil Kessel never felt appreciated enough when he was in Toronto. Maybe it was because of his unassuming and non-hockeyesque appearance, or the fact that he told the media to leave him alone. He was awkward off the ice but on the ice, every time I heard "Here comes Kessel" I felt like something was going to happen.
But he loved us anyway, never missed games, and was consistently one of the best players in the league.
I love him so much still, and I always miss him. He deserves to win the Cup and there will be tears in my eyes if he does.
And by the way, if he was eating hot dogs every day, maybe we all should be. - Phylliskessel
Happy Best Friend's day pic.twitter.com/A3jumQlVjW— highheels&highsticks (@hiheelshisticks) 9 June 2016
Lil Seldo (age 8) chimes in with "He's the best player ever and Toronto is still dumb for trading him. He's the best, how can anyone argue with that? He's. The. Best." - El Seldo
The guy hasn't missed a single game since the 2009-10 season. None! He's the anti-Lupul. Actually I doubt he hasn't had any injuries at all, or at least hasn't had the flu, he's just played through it like he always does. Isn't that one of those leadership qualities they say he doesn't have? - Species
Achariya Rezak: The day that he stood up to reporters on behalf of Dion Phaneuf will live forever in my heart. It happened shortly after I started at PPP.
Katyaknappe: Kessel didn't just stand up to reporters, he stood up to the media as a mass, the medium, the message of it, and he stepped way, way out of his comfort zone and he did that for his boy.
That is hockey, the best of hockey, human beings pushing themselves to their limits, but always together.
He also worked in a cogent critique of the team management and the whole, wow, we suck, let's blame the players thing that they expect fans to swallow whole and the players to carry around like a cross.
Achariya Rezak: What's your favorite Phil! moment?
Mine is -- honestly -- right now. Phylliskessel: Him jumping with dion!
Achariya Rezak: OK. As an American, I can say that I loved his hat trick at Sochi.
Phylliskessel: Didn't he once bounce a puck off of Bozak's butt?Emily: it really is sad that the only big time goals he scored in toronto were the one in that playoff series the leafs won against boston
I like Phil because I like people and hockey players that are unique and different. There has never been a player who handles the puck like he does, choppy because of how weird and flexible his stick is but somehow graceful because he still manages to control it. And he’s different off the ice too. He has been through a lot and has come out of it as himself, which might be more shy and reserved than fans or media would like but is still just as authentic and real as the player who can’t take slapshots but can bend a twig and launch a frozen disk bar down before anyone on the ice or watching on TV blinks. - Scott Wheeler
I think an interesting thing about Kessel is that he doesn't come off as someone who was born to be a star the way someone like Ovechkin does. He seems like someone who had stardom kind of thrust upon him because he's so good. And all the unsolicited positive comments from other players about him speak volumes to me Guys like Subban, Toews, Kane, etc. As for game moments, his OT goal against Colorado always sticks out to me - Arvind
Seeing Phil lift the Stanley Cup is something that I won't forget. As a massive hockey fan in general who lives in Toronto, I caught almost every single Leafs game through Phil's time here. Through the ups and downs he was always a leader, but a leader that was unfairly criticized due to poor vision and roster makeup from the folks running the team. So often Phil was in the newspapers with a massive portion of the blame for the Leafs' struggles if he didn't score in a game. In Pittsburgh they got a superstar who once again showed up in the playoffs, something Phil's done in his career. I've been pulling for him, especially since I met him near my workplace one day. He was very kind and took the time to chat a little bit with me. So often people forget where they came from when they get famous/rich, but from things I've heard and from personal experience, Phil hasn't, and that's a big reason why I'm happy he now has a Stanley Cup ring. - Chris
El Seldo: I always liked Kessel because he reminded me of me. He just wants to go out there and do his job, enjoy himself, and those around him know him and can joke around and know everything they want about him. But people outside that circle see him as aloof and standoffish because he's out of his comfort zone, and just wants to get out of the situation, and that's me 90% of the time. The way he stood up for Dion, the time he spent with kids in the hospital but didn't ask for PR to be there, that story about how he plays with the kids in his condo in Florida. He's just a guy who likes hockey, you know?
Also the killer skills he has on the ice. That's the stuff of dreams, and nightmares for the opponents. I'm happy he really enjoyed himself in the finals. I wish we could have seen all this happen here. And yeah, the more people ragged on him in the media or by fans, that made me like him even more.
Arvind: Yeah, he seems like a really pleasant, down to earth guy. At the end of the day, he just likes playing hackey
El Seldo: One thing that still gets me is how much the kid loves him, even after he got traded. I figured he wouldn't care much but all playoffs he's been asking how Phils doing and why did they trade him again? And how much he's waiting to see Kessel score the cup winning goal. I don't think I've ever loved a favourite player that much.
Arvind: That story about him hanging out with those two young hockey fans in Florida is so sweet too. Did it with no asking, no press, nothing Just cause he wanted to.
Species: He went to the birthday party for a little boy with cancer in Hamilton
Achariya Rezak: oh my god, he brought in the cake
Phil!— Phil Kessel (@PKessel81) 21 July 2013
Post your memories, favourite gifs, odes to his greatness and anything else about Phil Kessel in the comments.