National Hockey League star forward Phil Kessel has gone a long way to rehabilitating the reputation he earned during his time as the star player of the Toronto Maple Leafs organization, but all the good work he has done in that regard may have been undone in an instant today.
For those of you who missed it Kessel was involved in a rather large trade today when the Penguins moved him in a trade deal with 5 moving parts, a deal that has now made him the newest member of the Arizona Coyotes. That of course was not the trade that Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford had wanted to make however, he initially had traded Phil Kessel to the Minnesota Wild in a deal that would have seen the Penguins acquire veteran forward Jason Zucker. That trade was of course infamously blocked by Kessel, a move that was well within his rights due to the clauses in his contract and one that I felt many fans supported him in making. That may no longer be the case however.
According to a stunning report from Pittsburgh Penguins insider Josh Yohe it appears that it was Kessel himself who forced Rutherford's hands by making trade demands of the Penguins at "numerous times" over the course of the 2018 - 2019 National Hockey League regular season. Kessel's reputation as a locker room cancer and a coach killer certainly has not died completely, and his animosity with head coach Mike Sullivan has been well documented. What makes this so damning for Kessel however is the source of Yohe's information, none other than general manager Jim Rutherford himself.
What this means is that Rutherford has now, quite deliberately, out the fact that Phil Kessel was repeatedly making trade demands of the Penguins only to then turn around and block the trades that Rutherford had made to move him. It is one thing to demand to be traded, it is another matter entirely to demand a trade while also using your contract to hamper the team's efforts to trade you as per your demands.
I of course have no idea how individual fans in Pittsburgh will react to this, but something tells me that once this becomes known fans in Pittsburgh will be relieved to see him gone.