When it comes to the truly elite players in the NHL, few can match the on-ice production of Nikita Kucherov. Since entering the league, he has been one of the top scorers for the Tampa Bay Lightning and has established himself as a household name of the sport.
Off the ice, Kucherov is known for being all business during the season. Once the Lightning won the 2020 Stanley Cup, however, he showed a bit of his fun side during their now infamous boat parade.
After winning the 2021 Stanley Cup, Kucherov once again dipped into his fun-loving alter ego in his surprisingly candid (and shirtless) post-game interview, where the slightly inebriated Russian star talked about Andrei Vasilevskiy, the Montreal Canadiens, and the future of the franchise.
There are a few moments of comedy gold from this interview, including Kucherov sending away a bottle of Bud Light for “not being champaign” and claiming that “he loves Stammer (Steven Stamkos)… he says something and I’m laughing, it’s not even funny and I’m laughing.”
Kucherov Gives Honest Opinions About Vezina and Montreal
The real meat of this interview came from Kucherov’s first comments, where he gave honest and brutal answers to some simple questions. First, in response to Vasilevskiy winning the Conn Smythe Trophy he said “I was telling him every day that he was MVP, you’re the best player… and then they gave it to that guy in Vegas (Referring to Marc-Andre Fleury winning the 2021 Vezina award)… he’s the MVP, he’s the best.”
Shortly after this comment, Kucherov said “I didn’t want to go back to Montreal. But the fans acted like they won the Stanley Cup last game. Are you kidding me? Their Final was last series.”
Given the typical demeanor of NHL players, who rarely say anything more controversial than “We were better than our opponents tonight” these comments by Kucherov are a bit surprising. Hyping up Vasilevskiy should be expected, as he has been his teammate and longtime friend for years, but to directly call out the fact that he wasn’t given the Vezina Trophy this year isn’t standard protocol.
The Montreal comments were also unexpected, as they could be thrown back in Kucherov’s face for years by that fanbase. However, fans often wonder what players are thinking when they win or lose an important game, and in this case, he said his thoughts, which turned out to be a bit blunt and to the point.
While this interview may be abnormal, these moments can go a long way to help further humanize the sport. Kucherov will likely receive criticism for his comments, but it will be a post-game interview that will forever be remembered by fans of the Lightning and those who enjoy seeing players giving honest interviews.
Eugene Helfrick is a Tampa Bay Lightning writer who is actually from Tampa Bay. He has written about the Lightning for six years, covering everything from their run to the 2015 Stanley Cup Final, to their crushing first-round exit in 2019, to their redemption in the bubble in 2020. While he is happy to talk about just about anything from cows to cars to video games, hockey will always remain one of his favorite pastimes.