Kessel pleases Bruins

TERRY KOSHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:19 AM ET

BOSTON -- Dave Lewis heard a few unsavoury things about Phil Kessel before he met the 19-year-old centre.

Long tabbed as the favourite to be the first pick overall last June in the National Hockey League entry draft, Kessel's reputation suffered with stories that he was a selfish player and would not be the best guy to have in a dressing room.

Kessel watched as fellow American Erik Johnson was snapped up at No. 1 by the St. Louis Blues and did not hear his name called until the Boston Bruins selected fifth.

A month into the regular season, the Bruins could not be happier with Kessel.

"Some of the things I read about him are totally false," Lewis, the Bruins coach, said. "He has done everything we have asked. He is an upbeat kid and he has flair. He has big potential but he is willing to learn the dirty work of the game, the defensive aspects along the boards."

Kessel, who has three goals and three assists in 13 games, quietly scoffed at what others said about him months ago.

"Rumours get started but that is not me at all," Kessel said. "I don't care. Falling to (being picked) fifth was not a big deal. I'm happy to be here in Boston. The NHL is what I thought it would be."

The Bruins have helped Kessel's indoctrination to the lifestyle off the ice as well. He boards with a family in nearby Lincoln and rooms with veteran Marc Savard on the road. Savard, himself a new Bruin after signing as a free agent, has enjoyed taking the younger Kessel under his wing.

"The biggest thing is to help keep him loose and I am able to do that," Savard said. "Right now he is going to have to learn like all young people do. But you have to keep that swagger and continue to grow. He has done that, but does not say anything out of context."


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