That’s the question Sports Illustrated reporter Sarah Kwak poses in her latest piece in the January 31st edition of SI, which hits newsstands today.
Kwak (who you might remember lost 75 cents at the hands of Henrik Sedin and a Toy House claw machine) caught up with Kesler when the Canucks were in New York two weeks ago and for as tough an interview as the hardnosed Kesler can be, she held her own and came away with a great piece on how the once troublemaking forward has changed his attitude and his game.
While we’re not at liberty to provide the entire article, here’s a snippet of the first two paragraphs and a first-look at Kesler’s spread on pages 52-53.
Is that really Ryan Kesler? It sure looks like him, with that steely stare and perpetual scruff. And whoever is wearing that number 17 Canucks sweater sure plays like Kesler—with the same physicality and explosive speed. But the Ryan Kesler known throughout the NHL as one of the more annoying agitators in hockey would never skate away from a confrontation, especially one with a trash-talking rookie. Last season, if a 23-year-old kid like the Oilers’ Theo Peckham had warned Kesler that, in so many words, he should prepare for the longest night of his life (as the hulking defenseman did in Vancouver three weeks ago), the Canucks’ second-line center would have shot back with something like, “Who are you again? Am I supposed to know you?” But this mystery man isn’t even barking back.
Indeed, as Peckham skates just a stride behind Kesler, jawing away in hopes of provoking a reaction, the target of his taunting simply rolls his eyes and shakes his head. But he does not engage. Not anymore.
Meet the new Ryan Kesler...
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