First Call: Phil Kessel thanks Pittsburgh; how Mike Tomlin’s son got to Maryland |
Breakfast With Benz

First Call: Phil Kessel thanks Pittsburgh; how Mike Tomlin’s son got to Maryland

Tim Benz
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
The Penguins’ Phil Kessel carries his equipment out during locker clean out Thursday, April 18, 2019 at UPMC Lemieux Sports Complex.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin during OTA works outs June, 2109 at UPMC Rooney Sports Complex.

In “First Call” Monday, Phil Kessel says goodbye to Pittsburgh. The MLB London series was insane. And the winding story of Dino Tomlin’s recruitment to Maryland.

Kessel’s goodbye

There have been a lot of reports about acrimony on the way out the door between Phil Kessel and the Penguins.

But, publicly, everyone is putting on a good face. Jim Rutherford said all the right things about Kessel after the trade was done, pointing out his history of success here as a key cog in two Stanley Cup championships.

And the usually reclusive Kessel posted a farewell on his Instagram after his trade to Arizona.

“Pittsburgh, the fans, my teammates, and ownership. I just want to thank you for an incredible run. The last 4 years have been nothing short of amazing. Growing up as a kid, my dream was to win The Stanley Cup. Well, we won 2, back to back! I’m gonna miss the fans, the city and my teammates. Thank you for all your support over the years. I will never forget it!”

There’s no doubt Kessel got fan support here that he never got in Toronto and Boston. In Arizona, they may need more fans — period — before we can gauge the reaction to his performance next season.

Then again, Kessel may enjoy that anonymity.

Tomlin a Terp

Mike Tomlin’s son, Dino, is going to play football at the University of Maryland.

And there is a clear Steelers connection.

This week, the Testudo Times chronicled the courtship of Tomlin by Scottie Montgomery, who was a wide receivers coach on Tomlin’s staff. And he tried to get his former boss’ son to play football when he was coaching at Eastern Carolina. The two families remained close even when Montgomery joined the college ranks.

But as the younger Tomlin’s star began to rise at Shady Side Academy, it became clear that Tomlin’s sights could be set on a Power 5 school. Maryland — a favorite of Dino’s throughout the recruiting process — is in the Big Ten.

And it changed coaches.

Montgomery wound up on the staff of Mike Locksley with the Terrapins following the dismissal of head coach DJ Durkin. And now he’ll get to coach the younger Tomlin after all.

Via the website, “’Well, I’m going to get him anyway’, Dino recalled Montgomery boasting to his father.”

Nittany Lion football mourns

Former Penn State running back Mike Gasparato died last week following a battle against cancer.

According to 247 Sports, the Nittany Lions started to learn of Gasparato’s death Friday morning.

Gasparato was 37. He was part of the 2000 recruiting class for the Lions. He was with the program through 2004, backing up Larry Johnson.

After his time in State College, Gasparato was a grad assistant at South Carolina. He also was a teacher and a high school coach.

God Save the Queen

Or maybe, God save the pitchers.

Since England is such a soccer-mad country, apparently they don’t need a lot of scoring to enjoy their sports.

Well, they got it anyway at London Stadium for the Red Sox-Yankees international series over the weekend.

The two teams played a pair of games in England over the weekend. And the British fans got a lot of this from the Red Sox.

And a lot of this from the Yankees.

Boston and New York combined for 50 runs, 65 hits, 15 doubles and 10 homers. The two games lasted over 9 hours, without any extra innings.

Tim Benz is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Tim at [email protected] or via Twitter. All tweets could be reposted. All emails are subject to publication unless specified otherwise.

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