TORONTO – Rest assured, Team USA saw the instantly infamous tweet that roster omission Phil Kessel fired its way Tuesday night. And they won’t forget it.
After losing 4-2 to Canada and thus getting eliminated from the World Cup of Hockey, the Americans “had a couple beverages as a group” and talked things over.
No doubt, Kessel’s tweet came up in conversation.
“It’s disappointing. It’s almost to say that we were coasting or don’t care, weren’t representing our countries as well as we could have,” said David Backes, who skated alongside Kessel at the 2010 and 2014 Olympics.
“I understand there’s hard feelings if you weren’t picked for the team or whatever, but the comments are, I think — as a team guy and as a guy that stands by my teammates, win lose or draw — it’s a little distasteful and aggravating. But everyone’s got a Twitter account and you can have freedom of speech to say whatever you want and so be it.
“But those comments don’t get lost in the fray, and those comments are there and have been read and I think will be remembered when whatever happens going forward happens going forward.”
Zach Parise also won silver with Kessel in Vancouver.
“He couldn’t even have played, could he? Didn’t he just have surgery? I thought he did. Regardless, I don’t really care what Phil said,” Parise said. “We were here. We tried hard, we played hard, and came up short.
“Everyone’s entitled to their opinion. Unfortunately now you can have your opinion go viral real quickly.”
Kessel’s comment had racked up more than 63,000 retweets and 87,000 likes in less than 14 hours.
“With social media, people can take shots behind their keyboard, and that’s it. You can’t really dwell on it,” said Kyle Palmieri. “It doesn’t take people taking shots on social media to make you feel worse about yourself or how the tournament went.”
Despite leading the Stanley Cup–champion Pittsburgh Penguins in playoff scoring and topping all U.S.-born players with five goals in Sochi, Kessel was not invited to participate on Team USA, a unit that has struggled to score here in Toronto.
“I hope it’s not directed at us, because this group gave it everything they got,” said Derek Stepan. “It would be disrespectful if it was directed at us.”