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Save Filthy Phil Kessel

On July 1st, 1903, the Tour De France entered the cycling circuit. On July 1st, 1979, Sony introduced the Walkman. On July 1st, 2015, the city of Pittsburgh received in a trade with the Toronto Maple Leafs former testicular cancer survivor and NHL superstar Phil Kessel.

The Penguins’ General Manager Jim Rutherford was able to pull off this move in a stealing-candy-from-a-baby scenario if I have ever seen one. The Penguins gave up the following:

-Center, Nick Spaling -Right Winger, Kasperi Kapanen -Defenseman, Scott Harrington -1st and 3rd Round Pick in 2016

None of these guys turned into superstars, so trading them away was a huge move for Jim Rutherford. In return, not only did the Penguins get Phil Kessel, but Toronto also agreed to pay $1.2 million dollars for the rest of the seven years that were left on his contract.

This move would pay off big for the Pittsburgh Penguins as they would be crowned Lord Stanley’s Cup two years in a row. Kessel, in his first season with the Penguins, played all 82 games tallying 26 goals and 59 points. The following year, Kessel further proved his value when her racked up 70 points in 82 games.

In 2017-2018, Filthy Phil beat Sidney Crosby in points as he tallied 92 (34 goals) to Crosby’s 89 (29 goals). The emergence of Filthy Phil came after a terrific coaching decision by Mike Sullivan to put Kessel and Evgeni Malkin on the same line together.

After a fantastic regular season, production from Kessel declined as he only scored one goal in 12 playoff games. This could be attributed to the line that he got put on in the playoffs, which was more of a shutdown line.This decision never made any since because Phil Kessel is not a defensive forward, HE SCORES GOALS! Putting him in a position where he needs to be more defensively focused was not the right move. Since this move, Kessel’s production has decreased and he and Mike Sullivan have not been able to see eye to eye. Now we must sit here as the Penguins are about to throw Phil the Thrill out like a piece of garbage.

Jim Rutherford has been actively shopping the superstar winger for some time now. As reports over the Memorial Day weekend tell us that the Penguins and the Minnesota Wild had agreed on a trade to send Phil Kessel and Jack Johnson to Minnesota in return for Jason Zucker and Viktor Rask. My first thoughts were “Jim, are you taking your meds?” and “have you just bumped your head, you jagoff?” Jason Zucker, who makes $5 million per season, ended last season with only 42 points (21 goals), and Viktor Rask, who has never performed up to standards, is making $4 million per season. These are generous salaries for players that have under-performed over the past few seasons.

Phil Kessel, who has a limited ‘No Trade Clause,’ can only be traded to one of eight teams. He has said that he does not want to go to Minnesota. With Kessel nixing this deal. the Penguins may see it difficult to trade him. If they cannot get a valuable return for such a valuable player, then why trade him at all? The Penguins do not have a problem scoring goals; it’s their defense.

Trading away Phil Kessel will not solve anything. The real issue that the Penguins have is defense. They are spending about $28 million on their defense. Many of these players are not performing up to the standards needed. For example:

-Kris Letang: $7.25 Million -Justin Shultz: $5.5 Million -Brian Dumoulin: $4.1 Million -Olli Maata: $4.1 Million -Erik Gudbranson: $4 Million -Jack Johnson: $3.25 Million

Last year, with the exception of Justin Schultz and Erik Gudbranson, the defense under-performed relative to their generous salaries. Kris Letang, although he had 56 points this season, has never truly lived up to his defensive position. Year after year it seems like he hurts the defense to a point I would rather see him out of the lineup. The Penguins played better defensively with no Kris Letang last year. For example, the Penguins, before the Stadium Series against Philadelphia this year, were outside of the playoff picture.

Kris Letang got hurt and the team tightened up defensively and battled for the second spot in the division till the end of the season. The Penguins could make a dent this offseason by moving other players like Kris Letang or Olli Maata who have not been defensively solid for the Penguins in years. Their job is to be defensively tough. Mike Sullivan talks about the lack of effort defensively by Kessel when it is his defense that has become one of the softest in the league.

In conclusion, the Penguins are making a terrible mistake if they think their problems are going to go away by trading away a point-per-game scorer that is loved by the fans and the guys in the locker room. Kessel is a man loved by Primanti Bros (Pittsburgh Original). If they do end up trading away the angel that is Phil Kessel, then please get something good in return. So Jim, on behalf of the fans in the City of Pittsburgh, Primanti Bros, Arnold Slick from Turtle Crick, and all things right, please do not trade Kessel. SAVE FILTHY PHIL!

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