For a second so brief that it would make Ilya Kovalchuk's stay in New Jersey look extended, I want to ignore the source of this zinger and admit that it's actually pretty funny. Every example of good humor contains at least a hint of truth, and - though it's highly unlikely - the gluttonous gut poking into the picture could potentially belong to Phil Kessel if he decided that two Stanley Cups were enough and really let himself go this summer. I'm certainly not going to get on my high horse and act like I am above making sport of a professional athlete who has the appearance of a middle aged man that wouldn't look out of place in a Kirstie Alley weight management class. So no, I won't say that Ilya Kovalchuk's fat joke at the expense of someone far more successful than him was an example of him breaking free from the restraint of social acceptability faster than he broke free from the restraint of the superficial 15 year contract he whined his way into. That would be hypocritical of me.
I will, however, say that it requires a clear absence of shame for him to take aim at the belly of someone whose been an absolute beast in Pittsburgh. Clearly the guy that bolted to a near-broke Russian beer league in his prime doesn't prioritize playing at the highest level, but Phil Kessel could show up to training camp looking like George Constanza and I would still think he was living a better life than the chiseled dude whose only genetic flaw is a lack of immunity to homesickness. We are talking about the NHL equivalent of a living, breathing folk hero, as he compares to the thee preeminent example of wasted talent that decided to poke fun at the frame that makes him so lovable. I'd tell Ilya to look in the mirror, but he would be too focused on his own jawline to realize that the insecure little man that lives under his pristine surface makes Phil Kessel look like Ryan Gosling.
Again, the joke is a pretty good one, but it speaks volumes about the subconscious of the person making it. Kovy made a funny, but it isn't nearly as hilarious as the fact that one of the most talented hockey players to grace the planet isn't anywhere near as successful as someone who is the doppleganger of the janitor at his kid's school.