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Bruins' Kessel practices, not yet cleared to play

BOSTON -- Less than a month after under undergoing testicular cancer surgery, Boston Bruins rookie forward Phil Kessel is back on the ice.

Kessel took part in most of the team's workout on Wednesday, skipping contact drills, and said afterward he felt good during practice. He does not have a timeline for returning to the lineup and he is not expected to play in the Bruins' game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

"I think I can [play], but it's whatever's best for the team," Kessel said Wednesday.

Kessel had surgery on Dec. 11, and when he spoke with the media on Dec. 16 he was in apparent discomfort. But he has been skating with team
strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides for a week, and appeared to be in no pain on Wednesday, according to Boston-area media reports.

Kessel said his doctors assured him he would be skating again within a few weeks. He said he will not have to undergo radiation treatments for the cancer and need only to follow up with his doctors for physical exams and blood tests.

"I missed it, because I love to play hockey," he said after practice. "I watched some of the games, but it's hard to watch when you want to be out there playing but you can't."

Kessel, who jumped to the NHL after his freshman season at Minnesota, had five goals and four assists in his first 27 NHL games.