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Tyler Bozak & Phil Kessel (updated 1/5/15)

Phil Kessel, born Oct 2, 1987 in Madison, Wisconsin, plays right wing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. He's pretty good at what he does - only Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby have had more 30 goal seasons under 25, even though Phil battled testicular cancer his rookie year.

His skill tends to get overshadowed though by the fact that he was acquired by the Leafs from the Boston Bruins in exchange for 2 first round picks (and a 2nd round pick) that turned into Tyler Seguin and Dougie Hamilton - whether or not that was a good trade is still a huge controversy, though Seguin's subsequent trade to Dallas has dampened that a bit.

It doesn't help that he's kind of shy and socially awkward (an issue even during the combine in his draft year):


He tends to avoid attention, often escaping the dressing room before the media horde arrives. Kessel usually appears when summoned but the ensuing process can be painful, as he typically offers a few short sentences while slowly inching away from the cameras. [a profile of Kessel]


Although he's awkward in front of the camera and tends to be pretty self-deprecating, he also doesn't particularly care what other people say about him or write about him:

People do seem to like to make his life hard though - he gets picked last at the All-Star Game one year, and the next year, he expressly asks not to be in the fastest skater competition... and his Leafs teammate Joffrey Lupul puts him in anyway (at least he won).

At the beginning of the 2013 season, Kessel went 10 games without scoring a goal and endless articles were written about it. When he finally scored against the Winnipeg Jets, one guy was the happiest of all - Tyler Bozak, president of the Phil Kessel fanclub:

bozak hugs kessel after kessel gets his 1st goal of the season

tyler bozak, president of the phil kessel fanclub

Interviewer- Phil has his critics, but you are the president of the Phil Kessel fan club.

Tyler Bozak, born Mar 19, 1986 in Regina, Saskatchewan, plays center for the Leafs and is generally on the first line with Kessel on his wing. The best way I could describe him is... Kaner-lite? Not necessarily in a hockey sense - he's weirdly great at faceoffs, breakaways, and shootouts, but the fancy stats are not kind to him - but similarly prone to doing stupid things like wearing blackface for Halloween.

Whatever Bozak's faults - man, he loves Phil Kessel.


"Him and Bozie are inseparable," defenceman Mike Komisarek said. "Those guys are always around each other, always hang out. Started calling them Bert and Ernie the other day."

"It's weird, but right when I came up here, we got to know each other pretty well off the bat," Bozak said. "We've just got a lot of the same interests." [..]

Bozak said he and Kessel kept in close contact this summer and agreed to come to Toronto a month early to train together. Both are former National Collegiate Athletic Association stars who left school early to join the NHL, but Kessel did so as an 18-year-old, fifth-overall pick.

Almost two years his senior, Bozak took a longer route - going undrafted because he was 5 foot 9 at 18 - and was almost 24 before landing in the NHL full time. Bozak said Wednesday he remembers watching Kessel's career closely, when he was still with the Victoria Grizzlies in Junior A and miles away from NHL stardom.

It's still a bit surreal now serving as his linemate and friend.

"When I was playing college, he was still getting talked about by other guys for how good he was in Minnesota," Bozak said. "And then watching him play in the NHL and seeing how many goals a young kid like that can score, it's pretty amazing now being able to play with him and be good buddies with him." [x]

They're BFFs.

all access 1

all access 2

And now they're roommates. 

kessel's roommates bozak and stella


“I don’t know whether they’re drawing up plays or whatever at home,” said Leafs assistant captain Joffrey Lupul, who played with the pair last season but has missed most of this one due to injury. “There’s certainly some chemistry. They’re together 24/7 so there’s no excuse for them not to [have that].”

“He had an extra spot in his house and it was a shortened season so I hadn’t found a place yet,” Bozak explained, noting they rarely talk about hockey away from the rink. “I took him up on the offer.” [x]

Kessel doesn't really tweet very much, but when he does, it usually involves Bozak somehow:

bozak putting out the vibe

People do love asking about life as roommates though:

HBO 24/7 for the Maple Leafs/Red Wings Winter Classic included an extended look into their life - all the tv screens, chirping, 'shakers', and Stella-cuddling you could ever want:

No footage of them walking Stella together though :( We'll just have to imagine.

Bozak was an unrestricted free agent in 2013, which led to rampant speculation about how "if Bozak goes, Kessel automatically follows to wherever that is. As in, Bozak is the price of keeping Kessel." is an actual comment on an actual Leafs site.

But who could bear to split up Bert and Ernie??

Don't make Phil sad!

kessel sad

Stella would be even sadder!!

bozak: how much does my girl stella miss me? kessel: she cries by the bedroom doors hoping it's you

And in the end, the Leafs could not. Bozak got a 5 year, 21 mil deal in July 2013 and a few months later, Kessel was re-signed to an 8 year, 64mil deal. Leafs bloggers are still grumbly about the Bozak deal, but Bozak and Kessel get to keep spending summers in Florida together, so who cares.

P.S. Phil's sister, Amanda, is an amazing hockey player too - she was a part of the Minnesota women's team that went undefeated in the 2012-13 season and won the national championship, and personally scored 46 goals and 55 assists in 37 games. She then won gold at the women's world championship and silver at the Sochi Olympics!