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When Pens winger Phil Kessel arrived at Ricoh Coliseum for Pittsburgh’s optional practice on Friday, he was met with a surprise.

Instead of finding his gear in a locker stall, it was set up on a chair outside of the locker room, complete with a case of Coke-a-Cola, cups for coffee, some signs and a big sign above it all reading “The Phil Zone.”

The prank was the brainchild of center Evgeni Malkin and head equipment manager Dana Heinze.

The backstory is this. On Thursday the Pens were playing against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center. However, there were only 24 locker stalls available and 25 players in attendance.

Heinze approached Malkin out of respect and asked if he would mind being placed in a chair, since he was not playing that evening against the Devils. Malkin, of course, was fine with it.

Heinze set out to find “the nicest chair possible,” and set up his gear on the seat. As the team arrived for the morning skate, Kessel began chirping both Heinze and Malkin. He even tweeted a pic of the seat saying: “Pigeon couldn’t even get a regular stall.”

So Malkin and Heinze put their heads together for some payback.

“It wasn’t my idea. It was Dana. He said we need to answer,” Malkin said. “I wanted to answer today and Dana helped me.”

04/07/17: Phil Kessel gets pranked + Inside Scoop: Payback for Phil

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“I don’t think you’ll find a better personality in sports when it comes to being a good friend and being a supportive, positive teammate.”  Carl Hagelin on Marc-André Fleury

These players were born in the same year

Mike Green, Ryan Suter, Patrice Bergeron, Dion Phaneuf  (all born in 1985)

Nick Foligno, Carey Price, Patric Hörnqvist, Niklas Hjalmarsson (all born in 1987)

Derek Stepan, Roman Josi, John Carlson, Darcy Kuemper (all born in 1990)

Tyson Barrie, Zack Kassian, Calle Järnkrok, Andrew Shaw (all born in 1991)

Petr Mrázek , Jaden Schwartz, Jeff Skinner, Mark Stone (all born in 1992)

Zemgus Girgensons , Elias Lindholm, Tom Wilson, Olli Määttä (all born in 1994)

Nikolaj Ehlers , William Nylander, Aaron Ekblad, Jake Virtanen (all born in 1996)