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Phil Kessel claims NHL’s ironman crown after playing 990th straight game

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Phil Kessel – yes, this Phil Kessel is your new iron man in the NHL.

The Vegas Golden Knights forward surpassed Keith Yandle to set a new league record on Tuesday against the San Jose Sharks by taking the ice for his 990th straight game. With 10 more, Kessel will become the first and only player in NHL history to play 1,000 games in a row – a ludicrous, absurd feat and yet another feather in the hat of a perpetually underestimated talent.

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At first glance, and from the point of view of an outside observer, Kessel’s run with iron man seems to defy logic and science. Non-standard body type. His awkward shyness behind the camera. His seemingly casual style of play. His love for candy and junk food. lazy reputation. Voice. Those wildly false stories about hot dogs.

Appreciate the legend of Phil Kessel, who hasn't missed a game since 2009, and his incredible Ironman performance.  (Getty)
I appreciate the legend of Phil Kessel, who hasn’t missed a game since 2009, and his incredible Ironman game. (Getty)
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They were long unfair anecdotal tales that haunted him for most of his career. Hell, even Kessel’s former teammates — those who shared a locker room with the young phenom early in his career — shared some of the same sentiments before they really got to know him.

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“If you had told me when I first met Phil that he would set the Ironman record in the NHL, I would have called you absolutely crazy. I would say you are crazy. time,” former Bruins guard Shane Hnidy, who played with Kessel early in his career, said Greg Wishinsky of ESPN.

“You are still shaking your head. Playing so many games in a row is almost impossible. So with all due respect in the world for what he was able to do.”

While absolutely no one, and I really mean no one, would spend money on a Kessel just to be part of the conversation about such an important milestone focused on fitness and durability based purely on aesthetics, it’s time to quell the notion of that Kessel is lazy, out of shape, or doesn’t care anyway. He just proved – as it has been season after season for the past 13 years – that nothing could be further from the truth.

Two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Pittsburgh Penguins. new club member 400, the 17-year-old NHL veteran has not missed a game since 2009. This is 12 seasons in a row, playing at full capacity. Every evening. No rest, no sick days, no service days, nothing. It’s hard to put into words how insane it is to play in every game of one full NHL season, let alone do it 12 years in a row.

How is this even possible? Ice skating almost every single day. Ridiculous amount of trips. The mental and physical stress this sport puts on your body during games, workouts, and workouts. This freak has never been kicked out of line with the flu, or a sprained ankle, or a concussion, or a knee or shoulder pain, or a hernia—nothing.

This is what peak performance looks like.  (Photo via USA TODAY Sports)
This is what peak performance looks like. (Photo via USA TODAY Sports)

This inexplicable superhuman durability becomes even more impressive when you consider what kind of player Kessel is and what impact he has on the game every night. With 399 career goals and under 1,000 points in the NHL, Kessel’s offensive performance could be on the verge of being inducted into the Hall of Fame if he plays a few more seasons with at least semi-decent scoring. To be a consistent 25-35 goalscorer, you need to live in these physical, high-pressure, high-scoring areas much more than most.

Sometimes he can look like that, but there is nothing easy about the way Kessel plays. This is truly an astonishing accomplishment for a new NHL ironman and one of the game’s greatest characters.

What former teammates say about Phil

The best part about it all, aside from watching Phil succeed, is to relive some of the legendary stories and quotes that make him so beloved.

As his record breaking day approached, former teammates spoke out and shared their best memories of Kessel. Here’s a roundup of some of Phil Kesselism’s best quotes from this week.

About Kessel’s competitiveness:

“I think he is sometimes misunderstood as aloof, but he cares. He wants to win. You have seen it in his career. He hasn’t changed. one. But it’s all about the room. He’s always been a popular teammate,” former Bruins teammate Shane Hnidy said via ESPN.

On Kessel’s ability to tweet:

My favorite Phil Kessel story is when he played in Pittsburgh. It was the first game since he was traded from Toronto. My line lines up against him on the first hand. So to fuck him a little, I cut him over the laces. Not too difficult. Maybe like 50%. And he looks at me and doesn’t smile and says, “James… don’t forget who made you a player in this league. Nobody calls me James either. He’s the only one who calls me James.” It was priceless,” former Leafs teammate James van Riemsdyk said via ESPN.

On his legendary dietary habits:

“I remember walking into his room in the Olympic Village. [in 2014]and the number of wrappers stacked next to his bed – I think this is what he brought from home in Sochi, ”said former US Olympic teammate Blake Wheeler. via Christina Rutherford of Sportsnet. “And I don’t know if it’s still true, but for a long time he never drank water. He will only drink blue Powerade. He didn’t like the taste of water.”

On the infamous “breath” exchange with Pierre McGuire:

“My favorite story is probably the one with Pierre McGuire and the breath“, former Penguins teammate Nick Bonino told ESPN. “After that, Phil came back into the room. He looked at us and just shook his head. He said, ‘Guys… you’ll enjoy this when it comes out.’ knew what was going to happen, so the next day he had a bunch of Tic Tacs and gum in his stall.”

On his laid-back sense of humor:

“When playing against Phil, you always just have a little chat with him and he always makes you laugh. You don’t want to smile, but usually you can’t help but hear that voice of his, right?” leaves forward Wayne Simmonds via

About Kessel’s sneaky athletic ability:

“Part of what made him hilarious was that he was very humble. He can fly up and down the ice, he’s incredibly strong in the gym, he can hit a golf ball a mile, he can hit three balls in basketball, he’s a good footballer. the player is just his ability, he is an incredible athlete. But if you look at him, at his height, you won’t think.” — Former Leafs teammate Morgan Riley via Sportsnet.

On his ambition to keep his series alive:

“We all knew the situation [with his daughter’s birth]. It was pretty crazy and cool for the team. Everyone had an idea, but no one knew exactly what was going to happen. You didn’t know when the baby was due. So he played one shift, got on a plane and came back with us for the next game. We all cooked him something for the baby,” said former Coyotes teammate Clayton Keller.

Kessel on his victory:

“That’s cool, so I’ve played a lot of games, right?” Kessel said on Monday. “It’s great. Obviously I have to win a couple of Cups, so I think it’s better than that. But there’s another fun game tomorrow and hopefully we get a W.”

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