Phil Kessel is All-Star Game's Mr. Irrelevant

January, 28, 2011
1/28/11
10:37
PM ET

RALEIGH, N.C. -- Phil Kessel's phone exploded in text messages after he had the ignominy of being chosen last overall Friday night in the NHL’s inaugural All-Star fantasy player draft.

"They were all just asking about the car," Kessel said of his Toronto Maple Leafs teammates. "They're all on trips and stuff. I was supposed to go with a bunch of guys on vacation. They just gave me little bombs.

[+] EnlargePhil Kessel
Bill Wippert/NHLI via Getty ImagesPhil Kessel received a car and $20,000 donated to a charity in his name for being the last pick in the All-Star draft.
"They were all happy for me. We've got a great team in Toronto, the guy's are all supportive and we get along great there."

When the draft got down to the last two players, Kessel and Colorado's Paul Stastny, captain Eric Staal joked that since Toronto wasn't much of a hockey market he was going to take Stastny.

Then, with star Alex Ovechkin snapping a photo of Kessel with the camera on his cell phone, Team Lidstrom assistant captain Patrick Kane ended the suspense quickly.

"We're happy with our last pick in the draft, so we'll take Phil Kessel," Kane said.

But, honestly, Kessel said after the event, he's not hurt by going last, especially since he got a brand new car and $20,000 to give to charity.

"I don't care one bit at all," Kessel said. "I'm just excited to be here. It's an honor. I wouldn't get here without my teammates, they play a big role in this.

"I'm just happy to be here. I'm going to have a good time and enjoy myself. When I was a kid, I would never have dreamed of being here. Hopefully, the fans in Toronto are happy to see me in the game. I'll play well in the game for them."

Every All-Star asked had the same answer when asked about feeling bad for Kessel.

"No, he got a free car," smiled Steven Stamkos, an answer echoed throughout. "I'm sure he's pretty happy for that. No, you do feel a bit bad for the last couple of picks. They're sitting there by themselves with the lights on them. But at the end of the day everyone realizes how great every player is that's here."

"Well somebody had to be last," Zdeno Chara said. "But I guess getting a car, it’s also not a bad deal."

Nicklas Lidstrom, the captain and GM of his team, said Kessel has a unique opportunity this weekend.

"He could very well win the car on Sunday, he can be the MVP," said the Wings captain. "That's how much talent we have here."

And the car?

"I'll drive it," Kessel said.

Kessel, a cancer survivor, also got money to donate to a charity of his choice for being the last pick.

"Something good [comes out of it]," Kessel said. "Obviously, $20,000 to charity, that's unbelievable. I'm real excited about that."

Information from the Associated Press contributed to this report.

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