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Joe Micheletti also had testicular cancer surgery
Jim Matheson, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Sunday, December 24, 2006

EDMONTON - When Boston Bruins rookie centre Phil Kessel had testicular cancer surgery, Joe Micheletti knew exactly how he was feeling.

The former Edmonton Oilers WHA defenceman, now one of hockey's best TV colour commentators, got the same grim news two years ago while working for ESPN at the Canada Cup.

For Joltin' Joe, as he was nicknamed here by Oilers play-by-play man Rod Phillips, it was more like a devastating blow six weeks before his 50th birthday. After all, this was cancer, and like 19-year-old Kessel, Micheletti had been the picture of good health.

Micheletti, who replaced current St. Louis Blues president John Davidson as the New York Rangers TV analyst this season, kept it to himself for a few days, just as Kessel did, before undergoing surgery in St. Louis, then radiation treatments -- five days a week for about a month.

"I called (Bruins coach) Dave Lewis to see if I could talk to Phil, then Nate Greenberg (a member of the Bruins management team), to pass along my good wishes to the boy. I told him to call any time," said Micheletti, who hasn't heard from the Boston first-round draft pick (fifth overall) yet, but likely will since they have similar stories to tell.

"I just wanted him to know if he needed help of any sort that I'd be more than willing to give it ... But I know everyone handles these things differently and he's just a kid, so you never know what he's going through.

"I'm sure the kid was in shock when they told him. He's a young man, but testicular cancer is more prevalent in 18- to 30- to

35-year-olds than older people, so it's not unusual," said Micheletti.

Micheletti, who played 158 NHL games as a puck-moving defenceman, wasn't thinking, "Why me?" when doctors gave him the diagnosis during a routine yearly physical.

He was blindsided, but pragmatic.

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