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.”