Phil Kessel Hurt Team USA's Feelings
The truth hurts.
Photo by Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
After being eliminated from the World Cup of Hockey following an 0-2 start, Team USA's most obvious snub Phil Kessel took to Twitter to express his dissatisfaction with being left off the roster.
It, well, pissed some people off.
Although Kessel wasn't the only player, former or current, to critique Team USA's performance at the World Cup, GM Dean Lombardi, coach John Tortorella and some players took particular offense to the winger's tweet.
"As far as the tweets, listen I like Phil. I really like him... I just don't understand players who have been in this situation, players who have played USA hockey, not only Phil but the others speaking out, to me it's a little self-serving," coach John Tortorella told the media following Team USA's elimination from the tournament. "It doesn't make USA Hockey look any better, either. It doesn't help the people doing it, either.
"I wish Phil—I just wish he didn't say anything because it makes him look bad. It's so easy to start chucking dirt when things go bad. We have some work to get respect back and that stuff doesn't help."
Lombardi admitted he would reconsider picking Kessel down the road, but stood by his decision to go for grit and competitiveness over skill—a colossal mistake—saying, "If you're talking about Justin Abdelkader, Blake Wheeler, Brandon Dubinsky, Ryan Kesler, David Backes, I'll take those guys any day, any day... Those guys have big time heart and when I talk about caring, they'd be the nucleus of the caring and they compete and they can play for me any day."
Even players on Team USA took offense to Kessel's tweet, despite it not being directed at them whatsoever, with Backes saying, "It's disappointing. It's almost to say that we were coasting or don't care, weren't representing our countries as well as we could have and for other guys that have worn the jersey, it's disappointing.
"I understand there's hard feelings if you weren't picked for the team or if whatever, but the comments are, I think—as a team guy and as a guy that stands by my teammates, win lose or draw, it's a little distasteful and aggravating but everyone's got a Twitter account and you can have freedom of speech to say whatever you want and so be it. But those comments don't get lost in the fray and those comments are there and have been read and I think will be remembered when whatever happens going forward happens going forward."
Zach Parise was another one who didn't particularly care for it, either.
"Didn't Phil have surgery?" Parise asked the media. "He couldn't play anyway. The tweet doesn't make much sense."
Parise may be right that Kessel couldn't have played after undergoing offseason hand surgery, but he's missing the point. The selection process took place before Kessel went under the knife, and the US finalized its roster while the sniper was lighting it up in the playoffs, on his way to helping the Penguins win the Stanley Cup. Phil The Thrill scored a team-high 10 goals and 22 points for Pittsburgh.
Who knew one tweet could cause such a stir on both social media and in the Team USA dressing room? Certainly not Phil Kessel or his dog.
The US wraps up its World Cup schedule Thursday night in a meaningless game against the Czech Republic, which is also 0-2 and eliminated from the tournament. Win or lose the game, this World Cup experience has been nothing short of a disaster for the Americans. It's safe to say things were a lot better in 1996.
For more World Cup of Hockey stories, check out our full coverage here.