Boston Bruins rookie Phil Kessel underwent cancer surgery and is "on the road to recovery," his agent said Tuesday.
Wade Arnott said the 19-year-old NHL centrehad surgery on Monday at Massachusetts General Hospital, according to the Boston Globe's website.
Arnott did not specifythe type of cancer, only saying that Kessel's condition was diagnosed "very recently" after the player felt minor symptoms.
"He's resting in Boston and on the road to recovery," Arnott says on the site.
According Boston television news station Channel 4, Kessel has been diagnosed with testicular cancer, although neither his team or family has confirmed the report. A spokeswoman at Massachusetts General
Hospital saidthe player is in "good condition."
Kessel, theBruins' first pick (fifth overall) in the 2006 draft, has five goals and nine points in 27 games this season.
The native of Madison, Wis., playedone 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 plus-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 and10 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 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. At the time of the 2005 draft,some hockey experts suggested that if Kesselwereeligible for it (he was too young at the time), he should be picked No.1 overall — ahead of Sidney Crosby, who was chosen by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
"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."
Impresses his peers
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 Bruins 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 has 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.