While many NHLers go on strict off-season fitness programs, Toronto Maple Leafs sniper Phil Kessel takes a different route.
“Honestly, I skated maybe—I don’t want to tell you this—but I skated 10 times maybe all summer,” Kessel revealed to reporters Thursday in Toronto as training camp opened.
Kessel said he spends most of his summer “living a normal life” by relaxing, golfing, hanging out with family and friends and fishing. He added that one of the highlights of his off-season was catching an 11-foot, 450-pound shark.
“I don’t talk hockey or have anything to do with hockey in the summer,” Kessel explained. “I probably take a month off. I live in Florida in the summer, so I go down there and golf and fish and do that kind of stuff and get away, and then I’ll start working out again.”
When asked about the team’s fitness testing, Kessel said he’s not worried.
“I think I’ll be fine in that,” he said. “It’s easy.”
Kessel said he’ll use training camp and the pre-season as a means to get into hockey shape.
“It’s pre-season, so it’s time to get used to the games and get more in shape and kind of get a feel for the game a little bit again,” Kessel said. “It’s been a while since I’ve played.”
While Kessel is sometimes ribbed for his not-quite-Herculean physique, he has proven to be one of the elite scorers in the NHL.
Last season, the 26-year-old tied a career high with 37 goals and led the Leafs in scoring with 80 points. Since the 2010-11 campaign, only Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Corey Perry have scored more goals and only Claude Giroux has more total points.
Despite being a private person, Kessel doesn’t let the hustle and bustle of playing in a market like Toronto bother him.
“You know what? I love Toronto, to be honest. The city, the fans, the team, the guys are great here. I wouldn’t want to be anywhere else and play for any other team.
“I want to win more than anyone,” he said. “That’s what we’re going to do.”