RALEIGH, N.C. -- It was a situation wrought with the potential for hurt feelings Friday night.
There sat Toronto's Phil Kessel and Colorado's Paul Stastny as the last two players available in the 2011 All-Star Player Fantasy Draft powered by Cisco.
Carolina's Eric Staal went to the podium inside the Raleigh Convention Center and announced that he was taking Stastny, which left Kessel with the dubious honor of being the last player taken in the draft.
If Kessel was bothered about it afterward, he wasn't showing it.
Backstage, Kessel was chuckling as his phone vibrated with text after text from Maple Leafs teammates who were taking some good-natured shots at Mr. Irrelevant.
The soft-spoken Kessel explained the messages were mostly ones of excitement about his prize for being the last pick.
"They were all just excited about the car," said Kessel, who received a Honda and $20,000 to put toward a charity of his choice. "They're all on trips and stuff. I was supposed to go with a bunch of guys on vacation. They're all happy for me. We've got a great team in Toronto."
Kessel made it clear he had no bad feelings at all about his situation.
"I really didn't care. I was just having fun with it," Kessel said. "When I was a kid, I never dreamed of being here."
Stastny said there was no tension at all as fewer players remained in the pool. They were all interested in getting themselves a free car.
"I think once it got down to the last 5 or 6, I think we all were hoping one of us would go last so we'd get that car," Stastny said. "It was fun the way they did it and it was good to be part of."
Nicklas Lidstrom put things in perspective when asked about having to take Kessel with the last pick.
"We figured that when we're picking second, they have to make that choice when the two players are left," Lidstrom said. "It's not up to us, it's up to them. We'll take the guy who's left. I was telling the other guys he can win the car on Sunday. He can be the MVP on Sunday."
Kessel said he'll put the $20,000 toward a cancer charity he became involved with when he was battling testicular cancer in 2006. When asked what he'd do with the car, Kessel said, "I'll drive it."
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Author: Dave Lozo | NHL.com Staff Writer