TORONTO – After Team USA’s humbling loss to Canada on Tuesday night, which eliminated any chance of them advancing to the World Cup of Hockey semifinals, criticism of the team flew far and wide through social media.
One of those critics was a player that wasn’t selected for the World Cup by the American braintrust: Phil Kessel of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who tweeted the following and saw it go viral within minutes:
Just sitting around the house tonight w my dog. Felt like I should be doing something important, but couldn't put my finger on it.
— Phil Kessel (@PKessel81) September 21, 2016
On Wednesday, the blowback began.
Team USA players took Kessel to task for the tweet, with forward David Backes calling it “a little distasteful and aggravating” and saying that it “will be remembered when whatever happens going forward happens going forward.”
Said forward Derek Stepan, who like Backes played with Kessel in Sochi: “I don’t think anybody thought it was funny on our side. Obviously especially after the way it’s gone, it stung our group anyways and to have outside pokes and jab, it doesn’t help but again – I hope that it wasn’t out of disrespect, and that’s all we can really do at this point. “
Kessel told ESPN.com that the comments were not directed at the players.
On Wednesday night, during Canada’s game against Team Europe, it was time for the venerable Don Cherry to offer his take on the Kessel matter during Coach’s Corner with Ron MacLean.
We present it here, with capitalization representing volume:
Ron: “The tweet, by Phil Kessel.”
Don: “AH YA KNOW KESSEL WAS PLAYIN’ IT PERFECT AND THEN HE HAD TO GO AFTER THEY LOST AND SAY THOSE THINGS. I DON’T UNDERSTAND IT. AND NOW YOU KNOW WHY NOBODY WANTED HIM IN BOSTON. WHY HE DIDN’T MAKE THE THE ALL-STAR TEAM. AND WHY THEY GOT RID OF HIM IN TORONTO. YOU JUST DON’T DO THOSE THINGS WHEN GUYS ARE DOWN. I DON’T KNOW WHY KESSEL DID THAT. HE WAS PLAYING IT PERFECT.”
And with that, Cherry said he was going from something with “no class” to something with “class,” which was American fans at the Air Canada Centre singing the Star-Spangled Banner before the USA vs. Canada game on Tuesday night.
Some of you might be wondering why Cherry neglected to mention that Kessel was embraced with open arms with the Pittsburgh Penguins, who credited his personality with helping in the room during their Stanley Cup run.
But really, why quibble on the little details? Think of the BIG picture, like the fact that Team USA should be rightfully criticized for leaving Kessel home, something that has been mentioned by the hockey punditry.
Oh. OK then. Carry on. Nice jacket, sir.
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