Ryan Kesler is a two-way forward for the Vancouver Canucks who won the Selke Trophy in 2011. He has spent his entire 10-year career with the Canucks following a decorated collegiate career with Ohio State University.
Born in Livonia, MI, not far from Hockey Town USA, Kesler grew up the son of a college hockey player and played for some of the premier Detroit youth hockey teams. He considered fellow Livonia native Mike Modano of the Minnesota North Stars a role model.
After playing for the junior U.S. National teams, Kesler went on to play for Ohio State on scholarship. After leading the Buckeyes to the NCAA Men’s Division I Ice Hockey Tournament as a freshman, Kesler decided to enter the NHL draft in 2003.
Kesler’s early years in the NHL were rough; he created controversy with his demand of a higher salary after just one season. After playing half a season in 2006-07, Kesler suffered an injury that ended his regular season. He returned in the playoffs, where he subsequently re-injured himself blocking a shot. Kesler had to accept a pay cut to stay with the Canucks.
In his fourth season, Kesler took a huge cross-check hit in the face from the Philadelphia Flyers’ Jesse Boulerice, forcing him to leave with a sore jaw. The hit was in response to Kesler’s check on the Flyers’ Randy Jones. Later in the season, the Anaheim Ducks’ Chris Pronger used his skate to stomp on Kesler’s calf.
Despite igniting some serious on-ice incidents throughout the years, Kesler turned into a solid player and even became an alternate captain on the Canucks. He continued to improve and started to take on a more offensive role with the team, racking up more points each season. Kesler eventually won the Selke Trophy after getting into his first All-Star Game, and making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2011.
Kesler is an agitator on the ice, with skills on both the defensive and offensive ends. His play can sometimes be controversial, but his fire and experience will be much appreciated when Team USA takes the International stage in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi.