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Phil Kessel bids farewell to Pittsburgh

Phil says goodbye via social media

NHL: Winnipeg Jets at Pittsburgh Penguins Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

As has become customary in 2019, Phil Kessel has reached out in social media to extended his thoughts and thanks to the Penguins’ fans as he moves on in a trade from Pittsburgh to the Arizona Coyotes.

(Also as noted all over the internet, it’s addressed to just about everyone but managemenr and coaching, unsurprisingly enough).

He received a comment from an old friend quickly, too.

It will be interesting to see how the Kessel legacy unfolds. The Pens’ probably haven’t seen a some discontented star winger that may or may not have voiced a trade request since the Jaromir Jagr days in 2001.

Like Jagr, Kessel was a brilliant on the ice player and driving force in back-to-back championships for the Pens. Those types of players don’t exactly come around all the time. Unlike Jagr, Kessel lasted four seasons, not eleven years.

Whether or not his stint in Pittsburgh ended before it really could or should have, in the end it seems like all the parties are pretty content with how it happened. Kessel gets to go to a market and team that, against all conventional wisdom, he wanted to go to with a coach he trusts and likes to work with in Rick Tocchet. The Coyotes are happy to add an offensive upgrade and type of elite scorer they’ve perhaps never really had.

And Pittsburgh gets their management desired “change” and will certainly have a new attitude and tone in their locker-room and team. The Pens in 2019 were fortunate to get a better return for Kessel than they did for Jagr in 2001, though that seems small consolation for what is now has championship aspirations. By definition this isn’t a team that can’t afford talent downgrades and keep their goal of attempting to win in mind.

But if they will win another Stanley Cup in the Sidney Crosby / Evgeni Malkin era, they’re going to have to do it without Kessel - a player who produced 45 points in 49 games over that span.