It’s a wet Monday in Pittsburgh, and all is quiet at Rivers Casino. The weeknight crowd slowly recordsdata in, however it’s a useless night time.

Once upon a time, a really acquainted determine used to offer some spice on such evenings. He’d stroll into the on line casino a bit earlier than sundown, carrying a ballcap and sweatpants and carrying a bag of money.

A safety guard stands close to the poker tables and factors to 1 particularly.

“That’s where my guy Mr. Kessel liked to play,” he stated. “Damn. We miss that guy. Nice fellow.”

Phil Kessel’s 4 years in Pittsburgh had been legendary. He helped the Penguins win the Stanley Cup twice, he scored 110 regular-season objectives and 20 postseason objectives, and, alongside the best way, turned a folks hero.

Those who frequent the North Side on line casino knew the drill.

If the Penguins had been on the town, and if it wasn’t a sport night time, Kessel would seem round time for dinner. And he wasn’t there to play penny slots.

“Phil likes to play poker,” stated Jim Rutherford, his former common supervisor who now runs the present in Vancouver. “It’s not like we didn’t know. And there’s nothing wrong with it. He literally would just enjoy playing poker with Pittsburghers. I think that was part of his charm. Just one of the people. He’s got his people, you know? Kind of like a fan club. He’s got a group of people in Pittsburgh who absolutely love the guy, and I am one of them.”

‘He has balls, and he has a lot of money’

Rick Tocchet has been referred to as the Kessel whisperer. Coaching Kessel could be a little bit of a problem.

“He’ll drive you nuts if you let him,” Tocchet stated. “But he’s a good guy. He’s a friend.”

They are such buddies, actually, that Tocchet has shared a poker desk or two with Kessel.

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