Penguins’ Phil Kessel discusses cancer awareness award, preparing for season

October 3, 2018

The Penguins’ Phil Kessel cranks up a shot that beats Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark in the first period Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2018 at PPG Paints Arena.

For Phil Kessel, talking about the testicular cancer he survived in 2006 isn’t the easiest thing in the world.

Taking about it in front of a large group of people is that much more difficult.

Still, he believes early detection is an important part of fighting the disease, so he was happy to say a few words when he received the Excellence in Cancer Awareness award at the 26th annual Action for Cancer Awareness awards ceremony at the Library of Congress last week.

“It’s tough. Not everyone likes to talk about it,” Kessel said after the Pittsburgh Penguins practiced in Cranberry on Monday. “Me, it happened a long time ago. I try to forget it as much as I can and move past and move on with life.”

“It went well, I thought,” Kessel added. “I thought I did OK. I’m not the best public speaker, but I did OK.”

Here’s a sample of some of the other topics Kessel discussed in a meeting with reporters:

-- On his preparations for the season: “I think we’re going to have a good team this year. I’m feeling good. I’ll be ready to go come Thursday.”

-- On playing on a line with left wing Carl Hagelin: “Haggy’s a great two-way player. You see how fast he is out there. He creates a lot of opportunities with his speed. He gets in on the forecheck, gets pucks back for us. He’s an easy player to play with.”

-- On working on power-play zone entries in practice: “We want to stay up at the top of the league. Obviously you’ve got to get in the zone to score goals. Any way we can get in there benefits the PP.”

-- On whether the NHL’s efforts to crack down on head shots have had an effect during his career: “I think so. When I first came in the league, guys would come across and you’d get hit a little more often. You’d be more aware of that. Now it doesn’t seem to happen that often. I think it’s getting better.”

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