Daniel Negreanu on Phil Kessel Trade: “I Just Became a Pens Fan”

Daniel Negreanu 2
Daniel Negreanu

Daniel Negreanu is good friends with NHL superstar Phil Kessel and believes the U.S.-born sniper is still coming to terms with the blockbuster trade that saw him dealt from the Toronto Maple Leafs to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

“I spoke to Kessel and he's obviously sad because he really loves Toronto,” said Negreanu. “But I look at it as a great opportunity for him."

Negreanu, who grew up in Toronto, thinks Pittsburgh will benefit immensely from the goal-scoring winger.

“He's going to be able to play with Crosby and Malkin,” he said.

“I've just become a Pens fan because he's my buddy so I'm going to be rooting for them. And the Leafs are like years away from ever winning and Las Vegas is not here yet.”

Kessel was a somewhat enigmatic figure in Toronto but Negreanu maintained that he loved the city.

“I think it'll be a great opportunity for him you know?” he said. “That part hasn't sunk in for him yet. It still just hurts for him because he wanted to win in Toronto and it just didn't work out.”

Negreanu: "I'd Bet Big Money on NHL in Las Vegas"

Phil Kessel Daniel Negreanu
Daniel Negreanu chatting with Phil Kessel at the 2014 WSOP.

Negreanu also believes that an NHL team coming to Las Vegas is a good bet.

The six-time WSOP bracelet winner has been at the forefront of the discussion since billionaire Bill Foley announced his decision to try and bring a professional team to Vegas.

“The board of Governors recently announced that they've formally opened the expansion process,” said Negreanu.

“We've sold 13,500 tickets I believe. Ninety percent of the upper bowl is sold in terms of deposits without a team even being granted so I would bet a large amount of money that we're going to have a hockey team here for the 2017-18 season.”

Another NHL team in the desert might seem like an odd choice for a sport that requires ice to play but Negreanu feels it could be a fantastic fit.

He also believes the poker-playing community will embrace the sport.

“I think for a lot of people who live here in Las Vegas, especially the poker players, they're sports fans and they're going to love this,” he said.

“We'll be going to the games, supporting the teams. I think for people who don't know hockey, when they go to an actual live game they're going to see a very different experience. The difference between how hockey translates to television and every other sport, is more vast.

“Being there in the action, hearing those hits, seeing the speed, I think it's going to win over a lot of people.”

Here's an exclusive video interview with Negreanu talking about the NHL in Las Vegas, Phil Kessel and more.

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