Phil Kessel felt ‘lost’ in Arizona with Coyotes’ direction

Aug 25, 2022, 7:13 PM | Updated: Aug 26, 2022, 7:01 am
Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck during the third period of the NHL game...
Phil Kessel #81 of the Arizona Coyotes skates with the puck during the third period of the NHL game at Gila River Arena on December 15, 2021 in Glendale, Arizona. The Rangers defeated the Coyotes 3-2. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Former Arizona Coyotes forward Phil Kessel spoke with the media on Thursday for the first time since signing a one-year deal with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Kessel joined the Coyotes with an impressive goal-scoring resume across 13 years in the NHL but saw Arizona make numerous trades getting rid of key players in exchange for draft picks. Kessel did not make it sound like that’s what he was told would be the team’s direction.

“They said we were going to win and try to win and compete and obviously that’s not what happened and it’s going to be nice playing on a team that wants to win,” he said. “When you want to win and everyone on the team wants to win, it’s a different feeling and a different vibe.

“Arizona, they had great guys. All the players, they’re great kids, and a lot of good people there. But when you don’t want to necessarily win and contend it becomes difficult as a player, especially when you came from Pittsburgh and I wanted to win.”

Kessel, a veteran with 181 career goals, spoke on how he feels a player’s value across the league can go down in Arizona.

“Obviously, I think, over the last couple of years you get lost here and people don’t view you anymore like you used to be viewed,” Kessel said. “And I don’t think that’s the case. I’m very motivated to come in here and help this team and try to contend.”

Kessel was acquired by the Coyotes in June 2019 and had three years left on an eight-year contract he originally signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kessel had point totals of 38 and 43 in his first two seasons in Arizona before 44 assists (52 points total) last year was the fifth-highest mark of his career.

Arizona Coyotes

A rendering of the Arizona Coyotes' proposed Tempe arena revealed June 2 after a 5-2 Tempe City Cou...
Arizona Sports

City of Phoenix suing Tempe for development that includes Coyotes arena

The City of Phoenix announced on Tuesday that its aviation department is filing legal action against the city of Tempe.
3 days ago
Matias Maccelli #63 of the Arizona Coyotes shoots to score a goal past goaltender Jack Campbell #36...
Associated Press

Coyotes drop 5th straight game in home loss to Oilers

The Edmonton Oilers beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 from a late third period goal on Monday night at Mullett Arena.
4 days ago
Clayton Keller #9 of the Arizona Coyotes celebrates with teammate Juuso Valimaki #4 after scoring a...
Arizona Sports

Clayton Keller breaks Coyotes’ point streak record with spinning goal in loss vs. Avs

Clayton Keller extended his points streak to 12 games, and no other player since the franchise relocated has hit that mark.
5 days ago
General manager Bill Armstrong of the Arizona Coyotes talks during the first round of the 2022 Uppe...
Arizona Sports

Coyotes’ Armstrong admires team fight as draft lottery position unfolds

The NHL’s top record was done by midseason thanks to Boston, but the chase for the worst mark remains up for grabs in the final three weeks.
6 days ago
Team Owner, Chairman and Governor Andrew Barroway of the Arizona Coyotes greets fan during a red ca...
Arizona Sports

NHL suspends Coyotes minority owner after arrest for strangulation charge

The NHL said it is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway and has suspended him indefinitely.
6 days ago
EDMONTON, CANADA - MARCH 22: Connor McDavid #97 of the Edmonton Oilers skates against Nick Schmaltz...
Associated Press

Connor McDavid’s 60th goal gives Coyotes OT loss to Oilers

The Arizona Coyotes dropped their second loss in a road back-to-back after Connor McDavid scored his 60th goal of the year in overtime.
9 days ago
Phil Kessel felt ‘lost’ in Arizona with Coyotes’ direction