Rick Kessel was a fine playmaking centre who played with the Pittsburgh Penguins and California Golden Seals in the early 1970s. During his career he excelled in junior, the minors and senior hockey.
Born in Toronto, Ontario, Kessel was first noticed after scoring nearly two points per game for the Markham Mauraders in 1966-67. He then moved on to play in the OHA for the Toronto Marlboros, London Knights and Oshawa Generals. While skating for the Gens in 1968-69, Kessel led the OHA with 66 assists playing on a line with Bob Kelly and Fred O'Donnell.
Kessel was the first round draft pick, 15th overall, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in the 1969 Amateur Draft. He spent most of his first three pro seasons gaining experience in the AHL and CHL while dressing occasionally for the Pens. On March 21, 1970 he scored less than two minutes into his first game. The next season he was penciled in as a regular but his season was marred by a water skiing accident in the summer that left him with a badly fractured ankle. In 1972-73 Kessel played a regular shift for the Penguins but was claimed by the Seals after the season via the NHL Reverse Draft.
After playing 51 games as a penalty killer for California in 1973-74, Kessel returned to the minors for three seasons. In 1974-75 he recorded a personal high of 67 points for the AHL's New Haven Nighthawks. In 1978, Kessel retired after playing two seasons with the Whitby Warriors of the OHA senior circuit.