Phil Kessel: First in our hearts, last in the fantasy draft
That's right. Last. He was picked... last. Our magnificent bastard lone representative at tomorrow's All-Star game is now the NHL equivalent of a clumsy nerd in grade school. Instead of donning a visor for tomorrow’s game, he may as well wear thick glasses with masking tape. I hope there's enough room on his jersey for a number, surname and the hand-scrawled "KICK ME" sign Team Lidstrom teammates are sure to slap on his back before the third period.
Man alive, that fantasy draft took me back to Grade 8 gym class.
Standing near a hastily erected volleyball net in red shorts that were three sizes too big. Wearing a fake smile that telegraphed both personal shame and a silent cry for help, like I was posing for a picture that would be mailed to potential sponsor parents.
Trying not to make eye contact with the pretty girls. Hoping the popular boys didn't decide today would be another great day to shove me into my locker or mock the picture of Greg Terrion glued to my biology binder.
Waiting, waiting, and waiting for my name to be called.
And if you substitute "Team Staal" for Team Heather, "Team Lidstrom" for Team Johnny and "Phil Kessel" for "The Skinny Guy With Black Hair, I Forget His Name," my experience usually went something like this:
1. Cam Ward (Team Staal)
2. Steven Stamkos (Team Lidstrom)
3. Alexander Ovechkin (Team Staal)
4. Duncan Keith (Team Lidstrom)
5. Daniel Sedin (Team Staal)
6. Henrik Sedin (Team Lidstrom)
7. Zdeno Chara (Team Staal)
8. Shea Weber (Team Lidstrom)
9. Rick Nash (Team Staal)
10. Tim Thomas (Team Lidstrom)
11. Henrik Lundqvist (Team Staal)
12. Daniel Briere (Team Lidstrom)
13. Marc Staal (Team Staal)
14. Dustin Byfuglien (Team Lidstrom)
15. Patrick Sharp (Team Staal)
16. Jonathan Toews (Team Lidstrom)
17.Dan Boyle (Team Staal)
18. Marc-Andre Fleury (Team Lidstrom)
19. Carey Price (Team Staal)
20. Jonas Hiller (Team Lidstrom)
21. Jeff Skinner (Team Staal)
22. Brad Richards (Team Lidstrom)
23. Kris Letang (Team Staal)
24. Keith Yandle (Team Lidstrom)
25. Claude Giroux (Team Staal)
26. Brent Burns (Team Lidstrom)
27. Erik Karlsson (Team Staal)
28. Martin Havlat (Team Lidstrom)
29. Corey Perry (Team Staal)
30. Anze Kopitar (Team Lidstrom)
31. Patrik Elias (Team Staal)
32. Matt Duchene (Team Lidstrom)
33. David Backes (Team Staal)
34. Loui Eriksson (Team Lidstrom)
35. Paul Stastny (Team Staal)
36. Phil Kessel (Team Lidstrom)
It's an awful feeling to be picked dead last by your peers. And while the All-Star game is just good fun – and Kessel was rewarded for this dubious distinction with $20,000 for the charity of his choice and a new Honda CR-Z – the fantasy draft was yet another wedgie for Leaf fans this season.
Does this mean anything? Is it a shot at Kessel? A shot at the Leafs, the city of Toronto... us?
What does it mean?
While you're thinking about this, I'll just be over here, baking a new batch of lemon squares for the weekend.
Never mind the popular kids, Phil! Pay no heed to their inside jokes and wild stories about the party you weren't invited to last night! Don't pull their fingers when they ask and do not take a closer look inside that garbage can!
Stay focused! Light it up tomorrow! Make us proud! Revenge...
PHOTO: CHRIS SEWARD/RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER/MCT