Phil Kessel says Twitter comment not directed at Team USA players

ByJoe McDonald ESPN logo
Wednesday, September 21, 2016

TORONTO -- Phil Kessel, who was left off the Team USA roster for the World Cup of Hockey, on Wednesday said his tweet after the Americans were eliminated was not directed at the team's players.

"Of course it wasn't directed at the players," Kessel said in a text to ESPN. "I know how tough it is to play the game. It wasn't directed at anyone."

Kessel, who won a Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguinsin June, took to Twitter following Team USA's 4-2 loss to Team Canada on Tuesday night.

Team USA players David Backes, Derek Stepan and Zach Parise addressed Kessel's comment on Wednesday and said they hoped it wasn't directed at the players.

"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," Backes said.

"It's disappointing. 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."

Backes signed with Bostonas a free agent this summer, and the Bruins will face the Penguins on Dec. 14 at Pittsburgh.

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