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Kessel ‘Motivated’ for Golden Knights, Knocks Coyotes’ Desire to Win



Phil Kessel Vegas Golden Knights media availability Evgenii Dadonov and Jonathan Marchessault celebrate goal (Photo- Vegas Golden Knights via Twitter)

The Vegas Golden Knights and general manager Kelly McCrimmon welcomed the team’s newest member, Phil Kessel, on Thursday. Kessel signed a one-year $1.5 million deal with the team on Wednesday and met with media members in his car after skating Wednesday morning.

“We have had conversations with Phil for a while now, and we really felt from our perspective that it was a great fit, and I think Phil felt the same. Phil is an established veteran forward who has enjoyed great success and has been consistently productive over his entire career. He has also been a Stanley Cup Champion on two occasions,” said McCrimmon.

The Golden Knights were looking to add a veteran player to their lineup after parting ways with Mattias Janmark, Evgenii Dadonov, and Max Pacioretty this summer. According to Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, the VGK offered Paul Stastny a contract, but he declined as signed with the Carolina Hurricanes.

Kessel will more than suffice and is the definition of an NHL veteran. He currently holds the longest active regular season games played streak in the NHL and is only eight games away from breaking Keith Yandle’s all-time record.  If everything goes according to plan, he will do so on Oct. 25 against the San Jose Sharks.

“Honestly, I just play. I have been one of those guys who just tries to play no matter what,” said Kessel.

But Kessel is more than just a player that doesn’t miss games. He can still put up the points and had 44 assists last season with the Coyotes. He is coming off a three-season stint in Arizona, where he scored 133 points in 208 games. Formerly a big-name superstar in the NHL, Kessel was overlooked by many, given the Coyote’s status as an NHL franchise. Now with a bigger-market team that is looking to contend, Kessel looks to re-establish himself in the NHL.

“I’m very excited. Obviously, I think over the last couple of years, I have gotten ‘lost here,’ and people don’t view me anymore like I used to be viewed. I am very motivated to come in here and help this team try and contend…

“(Arizona) said we were going to win and try to win and compete. Obviously, that’s not what happened, and it’s going to be nice playing on a team that wants to win,” Kessel said.

“One of the things that I like about Phil is that he is really motivated. I think he feels a little bit that he has been forgotten about in Arizona, with the team struggling. I believe he has something to prove, and that’s a great mindset for a veteran player,” added McCrimmon.

Perhaps the biggest thing that hurt Kessel’s 2021-22 contract year was his shooting percentage, which last season was the lowest in his career at 4.6%. Kessel’s patented wrist shot was simply not fooling goaltenders and is something that will most certainly improve in 2022-23.

“It’s an anomaly, I think. It is what it is; it happened. I’m pretty sure I had 20 before in a shortened season, so. Sometimes they don’t go in.. I expect them to come back and come back better,” said Kessel on his goals.

A change of scenery will hopefully rejuvenate Kessel’s career. But one thing that he will have to change to do so is his number. Original Golden Knight Jonathan Marchessault has worn no. 81 since the team’s inaugural season. Kessel confirmed that he would have to change his number.

“Yeah, I’ll be changing,” said Kessel.

With Kessel signed and Robin Lehner likely set to move to LTIR, the Golden Knights have roughly $4.7 million in available cap space. Nicolas Hague still remains a restricted free agent. McCrimmon did not have much to add in terms of re-signing Hague other than that it was “priority number one” to do so before training camp.

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Owen Krepps covers the Vegas Golden Knights for Vegas Hockey Now. A 2022 Robert Morris University graduate, he has previously written for RMU Sentry Media, Colonial Sports Network, The Titusville Herald, Pittsburgh Sports Now, and Pittsburgh Hockey Now.

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So Kessel leaves the Coyotes, where he has done horrible lately, dude puts in minimal effort every night, and then talks trash about the team like its their fault!!?? Ridiculous, hope Vegas cuts him.

Dave Henning

Vegas is a “bigger-market” team?

Phoenix is #10. Vegas is #29.


Vegas is among the top teams in attendance. Arizona will struggle to fill their 5000 seat college arena.

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