Maple Leafs' van Riemsdyk on Kessel's departure: 'You feel emotional about it'
Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports / USA TODAY Sports

When James van Riemsdyk hits the ice on opening night next season, he won't be accompanied by his linemate of three seasons.

The Toronto Maple Leafs forward spent the last three years playing largely on the team's first line, with center Tyler Bozak and now-Pittsburgh Penguins winger Phil Kessel.

Van Riemsdyk and Kessel were the Maple Leafs' most productive weapons the past two seasons, and van Riemsdyk admits that losing his longtime teammate wasn't easy.

"We're good friends and I enjoyed playing with him for three years, but we know when things end the way they did the last two years there is going to be change," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com's Dan Rosen. "Obviously he was the guy they decided to move. We have to be ready to move on the ice, but when one of your friends moves on it's definitely one of those things when you feel emotional about it."

Van Riemsdyk's new linemate is not yet set in stone, but whoever gets that opportunity will have large shoes to fill.

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Maple Leafs' van Riemsdyk on Kessel's departure: 'You feel emotional about it'
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