Bruins' Kessel treated for "medical issue"
Boston Bruins rookie Phil Kessel left the club Monday and is being treated for a medical issue not related to hockey.
A statement from the player's family did not specify what the 19-year-old forward was being treated for, and offered no update on his condition. Kessel's family also asked for privacy on the matter.
"When there is an update, and it is appropriate to do so, we will update everyone on Phil's health," the statement read.
Boston recalled centre Yan Stastny from the Providence Bruins, the club's American Hockey League affiliate, to take Kessel's spot in the lineup.
Kessel, from Madison,Wis.,has five goals and nine points in 27 games this season.
He was the Bruins' first pick (fifth overall) in the 2006 draft after playing one season of college hockey at the University of Minnesota in 2005-06, finishing second on the team and sixth overall in league scoring with 18 goals and 51 points in 34 games. He led the club in plus/minus with a +22 rating.
Kessel also played for the United States at two world junior hockey tournaments and led the 2006 tournament in scoring with one goal and ten assists.
Boasting an impressive mix of guile, skill and speed, Kessel helped guide the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2005 world under-18 hockey championship in the Czech Republic.
The forward finished the tournament as the runaway scoring leader with an impressive 16 points (nine goals) in six games.
USA Today called Kessel "The King of all Hockey Prospects," and some hockey experts went so far to suggest that if Kessel were eligible for the 2005 draft (he was too young at the time) he should be picked No.1 overall — ahead of Sidney Crosby.
"It's tough to deal with," Kessel told CBC Sports Online recently when asked about coping with the pressures of being the "next big thing."
"You're expected to do so much all the time. It's hard."
A motivated Kessel earned a spot on the Bruins' roster and has impressed veteran teammates and coaches with his willingness to learn and his maturity.
"I know it was tough coming into the NHL as a 23-year-old," said Bruin forward Brad Boyes. "I couldn't imagine doing it as a 19-year-old."
"From the first day, until now, I think he's grown immensely. If he keeps doing that, the guy's going to be in the league a long time and be a good player."
Kessel's shown flashes of his strong offensive instincts, but his defence has been less than thrilling. Bruins' coach Dave Lewis wants the sniper to be conscientious in his own end and has been willing to take away Kessel's ice time to make his point.
"I want him to be a complete player, in all areas of the arena," said Lewis.