Less than a month after undergoing cancer surgery, a Bruins rookie is back on the ice
CENTER PHIL KESSEL was the first regular out of the dressing room and barely stood still during the Bruins' one-hour practice last Thursday, exhibiting all the energy and abandon you'd expect from a 19-year-old NHL rookie. You'd never have known that halfway through his first pro season, Kessel has already been through a career's worth of stress. The workout at Boston's practice facility in Wilmington, Mass., marked his return to the ice following surgery for testicular cancer, which was diagnosed on Dec. 9. "He's got that permanent smile on his face right now," Bruins forward Glen Murray said. "And that's great."
Kessel's quick recovery—he said he is cured and needs no post-operative radiation treatment—is astounding, especially considering that he was in obvious discomfort when he met with reporters five days after having his right testicle removed on Dec. 11. After three weeks of running and lifting weights and a two-game conditioning stint with the minor league Providence Bruins (he scored Providence's only goal in a loss to Manchester last Saturday), Kessel, who has five goals and four assists in 27 games, was recalled by the Bruins on Sunday and was expected to be in the lineup on Tuesday against the Senators. It's a return he's been anxiously awaiting. "I watched some of the games," he said. "It's hard to watch when you want to be out there playing."