Hockey players are known for giving short, scripted answers during press conferences. Lightning star Nikita Kucherov did not do that.
The Stanley Cup champion delivered a legendary performance at the podium after his team’s 1-0 Game 5 victory over the Canadiens. Shirtless, with a beer in his hand, Kucherov dealt the city of Montreal another deadly blow.
“They acted, the fans in Montreal, like they won the Stanley Cup last game,” Kucherov said of the Canadiens’ 3-2 Game 4 overtime victory. “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their Final was last series [against Vegas].”
The Canadiens’ victory Monday night forced one more game at the Amalie Arena. All it did was allow the Lightning to win the Stanley Cup in front of their home crowd.
But Kucherov — who had eight goals and 24 assists in the playoffs and led the NHL in scoring for the second consecutive postseason — did not just take a shot at the Canadiens. He ripped into Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury and Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck for winning the last two Vezina Trophies over 2021 Conn Smythe winner Andrei Vasilevskiy.
“[Vasilevskiy] was outstanding. MVP. I was telling him every day ‘Vasi, you’re MVP, you’re the best player,’” Kucherov said of his netminder. “And then they gave it to whatever the guy in Vegas, the Vezina. Last year, they gave the Vezina to somebody else. Number one bullshit, number one bulls–t! [Vasilevskiy] took both Cups. He took MVP and I keep telling him he’s the MVP, he’s the best.”
Those were not the only iconic moments from the press conference. The Lightning star said “[are you] ready for the main event?” before his tirade and clapped his hands, pounded the podium and shouted “Joe, let’s hear it!” as The Athletic’s Joe Smith asked him a question.
“I don’t know what to say, f–k. Back-to-back,” Kucherov said in reference to how he feels after the victory. “I couldn’t sleep for three nights. To be able to win this game was huge.”