Phil Kessel while working out with the Abbotsford Canucks
Photo credit: Vancouver Daily

The real reason Phil Kessel didn't get an NHL contract emerges

Published March 28, 2024 at 9:33

For a while, it seemed all but a done deal Phil Kessel would be returning to the NHL in 2023-24. Then something changed. We now know more about what happened.

Three-time Stanley Cup Champion Phil Kessel became an unrestricted free agent at the end of last season after getting his name on the Cup again with the Vegas Golden Knights. Signings came and went in the offseason, but Kessel was left on the sidelines. After finding no takers for the first few months of the season, it seemed Kessel was on track to join the Vancouver Canucks before the trade deadline on March 8. Kessel even began working out with the Vancouver Canucks AHL affiliate in Abbotsford to prepare for what seemed like his imminent return.

Then the deadline came and went, and Kessel remained unsigned.

While speaking with members of the media recently, Vancouver Canucks GM Patrik Allvin addressed why the team ultimately passed on the reigning NHL's Iron Man, who's consecutive game streak stands at 1064.

"I think Phil is a great person and a well-respected player. What he has done in the league, a three-time Cup winner, he wanted to come back to play.

With being in LTIR and roster complications and how we want to play, unfortunately, at this point it wasn't a fit for us."

It's highly unfortunate that the Canucks had no room for Phil Kessel. Perhaps Vancouver was not impressed with what was happening on the ice during his workouts. Either way, Kessel has not announced his retirement, although he has not indicated that he would still like to return. Phil Kessel could still be signed by an NHL team this season, however he's not eligible to play in the 2024 post season.

Has Kessel's legendary career officially come to an end at the age of 36? It sure seems that way after going this season unsigned. A year of not playing professional hockey only serves to make him less attractive to potential landing spots. It's sad that he seems to be going out without the bang he deserves.
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