August 19, 2009
Trade talk bugs Kessel
By STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA
WOODRIDGE, Ill. -- Phil Kessel doesn't know if he has a future with the Boston Bruins but he does want to be part of the U.S. Olympic hockey team.
That much he made clear yesterday at the Olympic Orientation Camp in suburban Chicago.
Kessel, who already has lived through a cancer scare, is a restricted free agent.
He almost was traded to the Maple Leafs, spent much of the summer rehabilitating his shoulder after surgery and still is months away from his 22nd birthday.
"I heard about the rumours," said Kessel, whose name came up rather publicly in trade talks for Tomas Kaberle in June. "I wasn't watching the draft but I got a couple of texts about it. It wasn't something I worried about very much. If you get traded, you get traded. You can't control that.
"A lot of good players get traded."
Kessel did admit, though, that this summer has been distracting.
"It's been tough," he said. "I hurt my shoulder with about 15 games left in the season and it's really been weighing on me. You get that and obviously the rumours start and you say it's part of the business and you don't take it too personal, but it's still there."
The negotiations with the Bruins have not gone smoothly.
Kessel has progressed from 11-goal scorer to 19-goal scorer to 36 goal scorer in three NHL seasons. He has scored 11 points in 11 playoff games, even playing with a bum shoulder last spring. He appears to be on the verge of becoming the star many expected him to be, but the Bruins seem unwilling to make that kind of commitment.
"I'd love a chance to play in the Olympics," said the speedy Kessel, who basically is guaranteed a spot on the American team, assuming he's playing in the NHL come October. "I just hope I get that opportunity."
First he needs to agree to a contract. It's a question he honestly can't answer because he doesn't know: Will it be with Boston or another team?
"I just want to play," he said.