With the long NHL offseason here and no more hockey being played at all*, a young fan’s fancy turns, of course, to trade drama. This year’s downright biblical playoffs mean lots of teams are likely to be in the mix this summer—Columbus is about to lose high-value Russians faster than Petrograd after the abdication of Nicholas II. Get it??? You get it.
*I have been informed that the Stanley Cup Final is happening still? And Boston’s winning? Woof. Okay.
Anyway, guess who’s the epicenter of this year’s drama? Yes, it’s hockey’s cranky but lovable uncle, Phil Kessel, and he is not going to no gadt-damn Minnesota, gaddammit. The no-trade clause in Phil’s contract reportedly has a list of eight teams the Penguins can send him to without prior consent, and Minnesota’s not one of them. So he was able to quash a potential deal that was on the table last week, per Josh Yohe at the Athletic:
…[N]umerous sources confirmed that Kessel is unsure if he wants to play in Minnesota. He did research on Minnesota and the Wild during the past week, the sources said.
First of all, this is a hilarious sentence. The thought of Phil Kessel painstakingly googling “minnesoda where” and “minnesota weather sucks ass yes or no” and “minnesota montana same?” is absolutely thrilling to me.
And don’t bother adjusting your little nerd glasses and going, “Umm excuse me, Phil Kessel spent a college season in Minnesota and his superstar Olympic champion sister went there, he definitely knows where it is.” I sincerely don’t care. I am picturing a late-’90s model desktop IBM, the kind that runs Encarta, and Phil Kessel is hunched over this computer with his glasses on laboriously typing “google minesota best value bulk mesquite smoking chips delivery,” and then he accidentally steps on the surge protector and the computer powers down and he roars “GADDAMMIT AMANDA, WHY IN THE HELL DID YOU BUY ME THIS GAHD-DAMN MACHINE!” No one can stop me from imagining this and having a wonderful time.
Anyway, turns out what Uncle Phil was researching was “google minnesotta wild team hockey good winning?” and the answer is: No they are not. From Michael Russo:
According to several people close to Kessel, the veteran goal scorer has a couple of concerns about playing for the Wild, but the biggest by far is the fact he has examined the Wild’s recently blown-up roster and simply doesn’t think the team is close to contending for a Stanley Cup. Not even a recent telephone conversation with [Wild GM Paul] Fenton was able to change his mind, sources say.
Listen up, Paulie, you want two-time Stanley Cup winner Phil Kessel on your gadt-damn team, you better be ready to make him three-time Stanley Cup winner Phil Kessel. And if you’re not gonna do that then get the hell out of the living room! Can’t hear the gadt-damn Brewers game with all this yammerin’ and racket!
Could still happen, though. According to TSN’s Bob McKenzie:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if, at some point, [a trade] gets done with Minnesota,” McKenzie said. “Kessel’s ‘no’ to Pittsburgh wasn’t really a hard, 100 percent no so much as it was, ‘naw, I don’t really want to go there, maybe you could check with some other teams.’”
“Our client’s current position is ‘Nahhhh,’” said Phil’s lawyers, probably. He is a gift!
So where will Uncle Phil be parking his recliner and the huge tin of novelty popcorn he got from the guys at the garage a couple years ago? There’s a lot of talk that he might be interested in the Coyotes, and honestly, that feels right. The Coyotes have a kind of laid-back desperation-slash-likeability that, with the addition of Kessel, could coalesce into a delightful energy I’d describe as “genial dirtbag uncle.” Real “chugging Point Specials on somebody else’s boat” energy. Real “we’re all headin’ over to Gary’s to look at his new chest freezer” energy. Plus Arizona’s got golf, right? Phil loves golf. “Google average price Glendale condo with balcony NO NEIGHBORS!”
There is only one obstacle to this plan, which is that it doesn’t exist because Arizona has no money. Pittsburgh are not going to let Phil go for 50,000 Simoleons or a steakhouse gift certificate or whatever, so barring a sudden influx of cash to Coyotes owner Andrew Barroway (or who-the-hell-ever even owns that team by the time this blog goes up). it’s not happening.
And that’s unfortunate. As one of the league’s most notoriously low-key, interview-averse players, it seems like it probably kind of sucks for Kessel to keep finding himself in the middle of screaming Vanderpump Rules D-R-A-M-A in nightmare media markets like Toronto and Pittsburgh. Give him a break! Let him go somewhere warm where literally nobody gives a shit and he can wear khaki shorts in peace.
Honestly, what demon’s bargain did this guy make on a friend’s pontoon boat in 2006? Was Satan there in wraparound shades? “Philip, I hold thy future in my hand. Wouldst thou like to have one of the most effortless wristers in the game and win multiple cups? The only price I ask ... is that thou SUFFER PERENNIALLY at the center of BULLSHIT NEWS CYCLES that EVERYONE WANTS YOU TO TALK ABOUT.” And Phil, who wasn’t paying attention because he was pretty sure he had a big fella on the line, maybe a 14-pounder, was like, “Mmm sure buddy, sounds fine”? Is that what happened? As a journalist, I have to ask.
Anyway, I’m excited to see how this thing turns out. One: I hate the stupid Penguins, so the more they shoot themselves in the foot by getting rid of their best players, the happier I am. Two: Phil is a delight and I want the best for him; I’m weak for tricky and creative forwards who are maybe not so great in their own end but are fun to watch and have a great personality so SHUT UP, DWEEBS!
But three, and I think this one’s of interest to all hockey fans: The last team Phil Kessel was traded to immediately won two Stanley Cups in a row. So I am very excited for whichever city has the best Instacart reviews. Uncle Phil doesn’t have time for the grocery store! He just got a new bladeless fan and the NES Classic and he’s happy as a clam. Leave him alone.