Ask Phil about a movie, food, Wisconsin or maybe even his family, and you are liable to get at least a paragraph for your story or profile. Ask him about a special goal of his, or a complementary stat, or (gasp) a hat trick, and you are lucky to get a sentence.
It's name, rank and serial number all the way.
And, believe it or not, he has seemed more at ease with the media in this, his second season in the NHL.
Looking at the post game quote sheet, and remembering earlier interviews with the B's super sophomore, you might think it's actually painful for the young man to talk about himself. Examples of his clipped, but utterly charming, prose from after his spectacular, game-winning shootout goal on Saturday, include:
|Boston Bruins center Phil Kessel (81) is chased by San Jose Sharks right wing Mike Grier in the first period of an NHL hockey game in San Jose, Calif., Saturday, Oct. 13, 2007. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez) |
"Yeah it was a good win out there. (Henrik Lundqvist) is a good goalie; you have to get lucky every time you score. I was just fortunate."·
"Yeah same as last year, just go in there and hopefully you can make it work. And you can beat a good goalie."·
"We had some chances there; Sturmie (Marco Sturm) hit it off his shoulder. I just went down there and got lucky. You got to hope he goes down to beat a goalie like that. He’s a good goalie."·
"They both played well in net, and we were fortunate enough to win. It’s been a long time since I was in a 0-0 game. But we got a win and that’s good enough."·
"Right now we are playing pretty good D. You have to play day in and day out. Hopefully we can get some more wins."
Kessel obviously holds himself to the adage of "What you say doesn't matter. What you do does."
And let's face it. No matter what Kessel says in the locker room after the game, the saga of the young man from Madison doesn't need narration if the visuals continue to be this good.
Thankfully for the "Knights of the Keyboard" (a Ted William's description of Boston sports writers, recently resurrected by B's defenseman Bobby Allen), nobody else on the squad has any problem saying good things about Kessel.
Coach Claude Julien said Phil's ease in the shootout is as advertised.
"It’s part of my job to do my homework and when you’re coming in here as a new coach, you try to get as much information as possible, the percentage of the shooters and everything else," said Julien. "Phil is a gifted hockey player…it was nice to see him score that goal.
"It’s certainly good for his confidence."
|Boston Bruins center Phil Kessel shoots the puck against the Los Angeles Kings during the third period of their NHL hockey game in Los Angeles,Friday, Oct. 12, 2007. The Boston Bruins won 8-6. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson) |
It didn't hurt the confidence of the team, either, as they go to Montreal with four in a row in their pocket and a 5-2-0 record.
Boston's Marc Savard
tends to gush about his young friend and kept at it on Saturday evening.
"Who is it - Rivera from the Yankees?" asked Savard of the reporters around his stall on Saturday evening. "There's Papelbon here (in Boston).
"(Phil) is our
Savard said that he and Kessel discussed the shootout prior to the younger Bruin taking the ice.
"I said I like your backhand move," said Marc. "He looked like he set up for it (on the way to the net), but he saw something better when he got in close."
With trademark self-deprecation, Phil explained why he didn't go with the backhand.
"I kind of thought I flubbed it a little bit," said Kessel, the Bruins defacto closer. "I was fortunate to get it to go in."
Knowing that the reporter in front of him needed more, he thought for another second before adding.
"Whenever you help the team get a win, it's good."
It was classic Phil -- on the ice, and off.