Dunlap: Who Really Knows What Will Happen With Kessel?

Opinions are all over the place regarding Kessel

Colin Dunlap
June 20, 2018 - 1:52 pm

Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Don't know if I have ever seen opinions so across the board on any one topic as this one --- will Phil Kessel get traded in the near future? 

It seems some people who make their living reporting on the Pittsburgh Penguins and/or all things NHL are firmly convinced Kessel might have one foot out the door; that there's not a whole lot of ways the star winger and coach Mike Sullivan can coexist much longer. These two guys have reached an irreconcilable crossroad and, to be frank, the head coach ain't going anywhere.  

On the other hand, there are people --- again, with high-placed sources who make their living reporting on the team --- who are convinced the notion is silly that Kessel could be headed elsewhere. Yeah, all this is a media creation and overblown. This is a normal case of normal tension between a player and coach that plays out, well, normally on any team that has more than one successful player. 

Take for example a Google search conducted on Wednesday afternoon when you simply type the words "Phil Kessel" into the search field.

Here are a few of the top news stories that come up:

-Hard to see the Penguins winning a Phil Kessel trade

-Trade rumors surrounding Penguins' Kessel intensify 

-Phil Kessel not opposed to leaving Penguins via trade 

-Penguins not looking to trade Kessel per report

-Phil Kessel ne s'opposerait pas a un echange 

-Five potential trade destinations for Penguins star Phil Kessel

-Penguins finally shut down Kessel trade rumors 

OK, so there you have it. Now everything is cleared up, right? Far from it. It seems the water is muddier in all of this than a Beauregard Parish, Louisiana swamp.  

I know this, it isn't worth taking a guess, because no one truly knows the situation outside of probably Kessel, Sullivan and general manager Jim Rutherford. And in his time in Pittsburgh, if there has been one thing that has marked his tenure, it is that Rutherford will do what he wants, when he wants it --- or he might do nothing at all. This is a man who has an open relationship with the media, but it feels like public sentiment and opinion doesn't sway him in the least. People can yell and scream and demand all they want and Rutherford won't be swayed. Although, in this case, it feels like public sentiment is a heavy lean toward keeping Kessel around. 

All that said, this story --- or even if there is one --- is incredibly curious and puzzling to me. I can't call it one way or the other and, to me at least, just about anyone who claims they can is getting information off the record from Rutherford, Kessel and/or Sullivan or they are purely speculating and guessing. 

The only certainty in all of this, again for me at least, is uncertainty. 

The Pittsburgh Penguins could trade Phil Kessel before the clock strikes midnight tonight and it would come as not the least bit of a surprise to me.

Phil Kessel could play out the remainder of this contract here in Pittsburgh, sign another one and then retire a Pittsburgh Penguin and, in his retirement speech, speak of how he finally felt at home after a few NHL stops here in Pittsburgh --- and that wouldn't surprise me. 

This whole thing is such a mystery. I guess, as with just about all things involving Phil Kessel, this whole thing was bound to be such a mystery. That said, there shouldn't be any surprises as to what happens next. Or if nothing at all happens next.