Boston -- Bruins rookie center Phil Kessel addressed the media today at a press conference held in the press level of the TD Banknorth Garden.
It was the first time since leaving the team on Monday, December 11, when he underwent successful surgery to treat testicular cancer, that Kessel had addressed the media.
Dr. David Judge of Massachusetts General Hospital, the Bruins team internist, also answered questions during the press conference and joined Kessel on the dais.
"Phil Kessel came in to see me about a week ago," explained Dr. Judge. "And said that he hadn't really been feeling too well.
"There were a few things we talked about that day. And one of them was a possible lump that he felt on one of his testicles. And I confirmed that on an exam with him that day.
"Three days after he initially came to see me, he had surgery," he said.
Kessel, 19, explained that he was a shocked, to say the least, when he learned of his cancer.
"I couldn't believe it, to tell you the truth," he said. "It was tough. I had a hard time with it.
"You don't think about stuff like that."
As of now, however, he is cancer free or as Dr. Judge said, "I consider Phil cured with a very low likelihood of seeing any recurrence of this…the prognosis is excellent."
"I was real nervous for the last week or so, but when I heard the prognosis yesterday, I was relieved by it," said Kessel, who also said that he is due some rest for the next couple of weeks.
"I am just going to rest until after Christmas," said Kessel, when asked about his return to the ice. "After that, I am looking to get back in there. I don't like not playing. It's tough."
Kessel had high praise for the Bruins organization from Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli to the trainers.
"I've spoken to them," he said of his Bruins teammates. "They have been great.
"They have been very supportive of me, and as I have said all along, we have a great team here.
"It's a really great group of guys," he said.
This season Kessel, a center, has played in 27 games for the Black & Gold, earning a 5-4-9 line after the Bruins selected the young forward with their No. 5 selection in the first round of the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
A product of the University of Minnesota, Kessel was named Rookie of the Year in the Western Collegiate Hockey Association in 2005-06, his lone collegiate season. That season, the freshman Gopher center tallied 18 goals and 33 assists for 51 points in just 39 games – good for second on the team in scoring, and finished first on the Minnesota team with a plus-22 rating.
Previous to college, Kessel was USA Hockey's National Team development program all-time leader in career goals (104) and points (180).
The 6-foot, 190-pounder also had the opportunity to represent the USA twice in 2006.
Last January, Kessel played in the World Junior Championships in Vancouver, and scored one goal and had 10 assists for 11 points. Then, in April, he competed for USA's World Championship team in Latvia and recorded 1-1-2 totals in seven games.
Now he can add one more entry to his already full bio page in the Bruins yearbook -- cancer survivor.
"Obviously, I think you become…a spokesperson with stuff like this," said Kessel. "You've had to deal with something that a lot of people have had to deal with in their life.
"You can relate to people who have gone through it [especially] kids."
Most importantly Kessel had advice to anyone who is feeling uncomfortable with something occurring with his or her body.
"If you are not feeling right, go get it checked out. Make sure your body is healthy."
In that vein, Kessel knew himself well and his self-awareness was key to this issue's quick and successful resolution.
"Phil may have a medical career when he is done with hockey," said Dr. Judge. "[His lump] was very small and easily could have been missed."