Phil Kessel thanks Toronto, says he will ‘always consider Toronto home’

Phil Kessel’s tenure in Toronto came to a close on July 1 after a trade sent him to the Pittsburgh Penguins, but the 27-year-old sniper had a message for the fans in Toronto. In a message via his Twitter account, Kessel thanked Maple Leafs fans for their support and said he will always consider Toronto home.

Phil Kessel’s tenure as a Maple Leaf may have come to a rather unceremonious end, but the 27-year-old doesn’t plan on forgetting his time in Toronto.

Sunday morning, Kessel took to Twitter to send a heartfelt message to those who cheered him on, wore his jersey and supported the Maple Leafs over the course of his six seasons in Toronto. In the tweet, Kessel, a native of Madison, Wisc., said he will always consider Toronto home.

It has been nearly six years since Kessel was dealt to the Maple Leafs by the Boston Bruins. The trade to acquire Kessel came on Sept. 18, 2009 and cost Toronto two first-round draft picks and one second-round selection, but the then-22-year-old Kessel almost immediately showed his value, notching 30 goals in 70 games his first season with the Maple Leafs.

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Over the course of his six seasons in Toronto, Kessel was a 30-goal scorer three times and was on a 34-goal pace during the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign. Over the course of his 446 games as a Maple Leaf, Kessel notched 181 goals and 394 points, which includes more than 50 power play markers and 31 game-winning goals.

Kessel was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1 in a massive, nine-piece trade, which saw Tim Erixon, Tyler Biggs and a draft pick go with Kessel to Pennsylvania and Nick Spaling, Kasperi Kapanen, Scott Harrington and two draft picks come back to Toronto.