Phil the Thrill wants to say thank you.
The former Toronto Maple Leafs winger, and now 2016 Stanley Cup champion wanted to give a shout-out to Toronto for its impact on his NHL career.
Well, he didn’t actually write it himself – but that’s not the point.
“A year ago, I was facing the very real prospect of playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs through the 2021-2022 season, possibly to the end of my professional hockey career,” said Kessel in the satirical ad created by Sports Pickle.
Kessel said being stuck with a franchise (*cough* Leafs *cough*) without any understanding on how to build a winner or what to do with star players was crushing his hopes and dreams.
The 28-year-old spent six seasons repping the white and blue before being traded to Pittsburgh this year.
Kessel is the all-time leader for goals and points with the USA Hockey National Team Development Program, and sits 19th on the Maple Leafs’ all-time scoring list with 394 points in 446 games.
And after being booed out of Boston and Toronto, Kessel finally got the ultimate revenge on Sunday night by defeating the San Jose Sharks in Game 6 to win the Stanley Cup.
“It’s been a journey,” Kessel said.
Kessel isn’t the only one though. Larry Murphy was also booed by Leaf fans on the ice when he got traded to the Detroit Red Wings. He went on to win back-to-back Cups.
“You’re constantly being called out. Then to have things work out in Detroit as they did, it was a ‘Hey, I showed you’ type of attitude, without a doubt. As a player, you use every sort of motivation you can get your hands on. Dealing with the naysayers was one of them,” Murphy explained to Sportsnet.
In the Sports Pickle thank you letter, he said “today I am a Stanley Cup champion. And not just a champion, but the leading playoff goal scorer on the Cup-winning team.”
Kessel said that this was all possible because Toronto forced him out of town.
“I used to hate it, but now I know I never would have made it to Pittsburgh without you,” the letter reads.
I want to thank all of the Toronto fans for all the support you have shown me.I will miss you and this city and always consider Toronto home
— Phil Kessel (@PKessel81) August 23, 2015