Phil Kessel has been on an absolute tear for Team USA in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, helping his team eliminate the Czech Republic this morning. He currently has five goals and three assists through the tournament, including a hat trick this past Sunday against Slovenia.
Chicago Blackhawks forward and USA teammate Patrick Kane has loved playing with Kessel, recently telling reporters he was “probably the best guy I’ve ever played with.” While that’s quite a compliment to the Toronto Maple Leafs forward, Kane might have those comments brought up again when he returns to Chicago at the end of the Olympics.
A few of Kane’s teammates have been asked about his praise of Kessel, including Patrick Sharp and Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews. Both players are among the best in the NHL, so it wouldn’t be surprising if they were a little put off by coming in second place at best in terms of who Kane has taken the ice with.
For what it’s worth, Toews didn’t take the bait when asked about Kane’s comments. Sharp, though, responded a little differently.
“He obviously forgot who he plays with back home in Chicago,” said Sharp.
Now, to be fair, this could easily be taken in jest. At the same time, you could understand why Sharp, Toews and other Blackhawks players might be a little curious why Kessel got such a glowing review. Kane plays on a talented team, as evidenced by their two Stanley Cups in four years, and said club sent their fair share of Olympians to Sochi.
At the very least, Kane might be ribbed about this when he comes back to Chicago, and that may be all he gets. The majority of hockey players aren’t known to be catty in the media, and Toews and Sharp are both prime examples of that.
However, it would still be interesting to be a fly on the wall when the team assembles in the locker room once again next week. We may not hear about it publically, but don’t be surprised if a couple teammates ask for a little more insight on why Kane favors playing with Kessel over his fellow Blackhawks.