Penguins honor 'the legend' Phil Kessel at Stanley Cup parade
Phil Kessel may not have won the Conn Smythe Trophy as Stanley Cup Playoff MVP, but he was the most important Pittsburgh Penguin during the team’s Stanley Cup parade Wednesday.
After the parade route had finished, the team was brought on stage to celebrate their six-game Cup Final win over the San Jose Sharks. The “HBK” line with Kessel, Nick Bonino and Carl Hagelin was then called over and Bonino immediately took the microphone.
“I just want to say what a pleasure it was to play with the legend Phil Kessel,” said Bonino.
Added Hagelin, “It’s a true honor. No one’s better than Phil. Phil the thrill! Woo!”
Kessel didn’t speak and instead let his actions do the talking when he lifted the Stanley Cup over his head and yelled.
Before then, there were all sorts of Kessel moments along the parade route.
A fan held up Kessel’s infamous 2014 Olympic Team USA glamour shot.
A fan made fun of Kessel’s alleged hot dog eating habits.
He has my vote! Phil Kessel for President! @penguins #LetsGoPens #PensParade #ThankYouPens pic.twitter.com/14wqX7Cr71
— Maverick (@Mav1789) June 15, 2016
Hagelin posted a selfie with Kessel.
Same Hags, same. #Pens #PensParade pic.twitter.com/DnJI5qS9QE
— Samu Mäkisalo (@Smac_96) June 15, 2016
Listen to these fans scream as Kessel and Hagelin rolled past them.
After the parade ended, Kessel tweeted a message of thanks to the people of Pittsburgh. It was his first tweet since last August.
Kessel had an image problem with the Toronto Maple Leafs before the Penguins acquired him last summer in a trade. With the Leafs, it was believed he was both out of shape and difficult to deal with. His blowups with the Toronto media hurt him further.
The Penguins’ championship run changed the way Kessel was viewed in the hockey world and clearly he and the Pittsburgh fans enjoyed this ‘told you so’ type moment Wednesday.
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Josh Cooper is an editor for Puck Daddy on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter! Follow @joshuacooper