Hockey

Tim Wharnsby - Thursday Feb. 20, 2014 11:51 ET

Patrick Kane tries to clarify Phil Kessel tweet

American says quote wasn’t meant as knock on Blackhawks teammates

Phil Kessel hockey
American forward Patrick Kane, right, says Olympic teammate Phil Kessel is the most "naturally gifted player" he’s ever played with. (Jim Young/Reuters)

SOCHI — Patrick Kane did some backwards skating on a comment he made earlier this week about his United States teammate Phil Kessel.

On Monday, USA Hockey (@usahockey) tweeted on its Twitter account: “Patrick Kane calls Phil Kessel ‘probably the best guy I’ve ever played with. He’s unbelievable.’”

At first, the tweet simply seemed like Kane was being playful toward Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp and Duncan Keith, his Chicago Blackhawks teammates on the Canadian team.

But the tweet could have been misconstrued and used as bulletin board material for the Canadians, who meet the rival United States in the semifinals on Friday.

So after the United States’ victory over Czech Republic on Wednesday, Kane spotted Chicago Sun-Times reporter Mark Lazerus in the mixed zone and scolded him for attributing that quote to Kane in a story.

After Lazerus explained to the Blackhawks forward that he didn’t write a story about the remark, the writer simply re-tweeted the remark from USA Hockey’s Twitter feed.

Kane later attempted to clarify USA Hockey’s tweet by saying he meant Kessel was “the most naturally gifted,” player he’s played with.

But before Kessel refined the remarks attributed to him, both Sharp and Toews were asked for their reaction on the initial USA Hockey tweet.

"He obviously forgot who he plays with him in Chicago," Sharp said.

Toews added with a smile, “He's all right, [but] that Kessel guy is even better.”

After the U.S. practice on Thursday, Kane was asked if there was animosity between the United States and Canada men’s hockey teams or a healthy respect at the Olympics?

“A little bit of both, I would say,” he said. “I think everyone respects the players they have and what they’ve done as a country in the past. Obviously they’re the defending champions going back four years from now, and they have some great players over there.

“You’ve got to respect them, but at the same time, I think we have a chance to try to prove that we’re in the same sentence with Canada. That’s something USA Hockey has been trying to do for a long time, is prove that we can play with the Canadians and the Russians and the Swedes and Finns consistently on a tournament basis. We have that chance tomorrow, hopefully we can take advantage of it.”

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