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Phil, Meet Cam: Kessel Joins Neely as a Masterton Recipient

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Cam Neely, Masterton Trophy, Phil Kessel
Speaking via cell phone from Toronto, the site of the National Hockey League Awards Show, the Boston Bruins Phil Kessel, the latest recipient of the Bill Masterton Trophy, still seemed shocked that he is now included on such a prestigious list when he spoke with "The Bear Essentials" earlier this evening.

"I was surprised," said Kessel. "I am very happy to have been chosen for this award.

"It’s just a great honor."

Awarded annually, the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy is given to the NHL player who “best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to the game of hockey” by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.

The trophy was first presented by the PHWA in 1968 to commemorate the late William Masterton, a player for the Minnesota North Stars, who died on January 15, 1968 after sustaining an on ice injury.

Further explaining his wonder at receiving the 2007 trophy, Kessel, now the fourth Bruin to be so recognized, was quick to point to the former Bruins forward who presented him the award (a legend who fought serious injury to return to continue his Hall of Fame career) and also a man against whom he played this season (another player who, like Kessel, also battled cancer and won) as people who made him feel humbled now that his name will join theirs on the trophy.

"You know, Cam Neely was on that list," said an awed sounding Phil. "Saku Koivu, too.

"There are some really great players who have been recipients."

As you know, Kessel battled testicular cancer during the past campaign. However, he only missed only 11 games due to illness, and had a very productive rookie season.

With the Bruins he earned an 11-18-29 line. Kessel also notched a hat trick for the Eastern Conference in the Young Stars Game held during the NHL All-Star Game festivities in Dallas.
John Bishop is the beat writer for He covers the Black & Gold hoping to offer a positive look at the team, not only from the stands and the press box, but also from inside the locker room. A graduate of Boston U. and Northeastern, 'Bish' grew up in Connecticut and moved to the Hub of Hockey in 1993. Since then he has made all four rinks at the Beanpot schools, as well as both Gardens, his icebound homes away from home. Prior to joining the TD Banknorth Garden staff in 2005, Bishop had written for several publications, with his primary focus being college hockey. He coauthored the book Bygone Boston in 2003 and hopes someday to pen a bio of Hobey Baker.

Catching his breath on his very special evening, Kessel, now considered cancer free, explained that on top of his big night in Toronto on Thursday, his summer is going just fine back home in Madison, Wisconsin.

"I am doing really well," he said. "And everything is good with my health."

Speaking of home, Kessel was asked, who, beyond his doctors and teammates, had been instrumental in his being able to weather the storm during his exceptionally trying rookie campaign.

"My entire family," said Phil. "They were very comforting to me and were great and stood by me."

Kessel, still just 19-years old, is certainly enjoying his time off, as well as the extra time at home with his family members and friends. But, like most of his teammates in Black & Gold, he has his sights clearly set on September.

"Yah, I am enjoying myself and having a good time," said Kessel. "But obviously I want to get back to playing hockey.

"I am really looking forward to that."

Like Andrew Alberts, Kessel took a couple of weeks off following the IIHF World Championships, and recently started his preparatory workouts.

"It's going pretty well," said the young forward, who admitted that a bigger goal was on the squad's collective mind. "Hopefully we'll bring the playoffs back to Boston."

Hear! Hear! Mr. Kessel. And congratulations!

And Cam -- it was darn good to see you...
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