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Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, the MVP of news conferences

Called a “drunk, shirtless Florida man” online after his post-game presser, he took a shot at Canadiens fans and clearly relished his comeback from injury.
Nikita Kucherov celebrates with the Stanley Cup after the Lighting defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 Wednesday night at Amalie Arena.
Nikita Kucherov celebrates with the Stanley Cup after the Lighting defeated the Montreal Canadiens 1-0 Wednesday night at Amalie Arena. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Published Jul. 8
Updated Jul. 8

Nikita Kucherov went to his post-Stanley Cup news conference shirtless and ranting, earning the Lightning right wing headlines and tweets that called him a “drunk, shirtless Florida man.”

Sport writers are noting that he has every right to be happy and celebrate since he was crucial for the team in securing the 4-1 series win against the Montreal Canadiens in the Stanley Cup final.

He may not have claimed the Conn Smythe Trophy, but he is the MVP of news conferences.

The 28-year-old Russian missed the entire 2021 NHL season due to hip surgery. He came back at the start of the postseason, tallying a league-best 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists).

While the Stanley Cup final was memorable in its own right, Kucherov gave what is regarded as one of the most remarkable — and most remarked about — post-game news conferences with his celebration, using the platform to take some digs at Canadiens fans while swigging a beer.

“They acted, the fans in Montreal, like they won the Stanley Cup last game,” he said. “Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was last series (against Vegas).”

He also got serious when talking about sharing another championship with his teammates.

Lightning coach Jon Cooper celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy (88), Nikita Kucherov (86) and Mikhail Sergachev (98) after he took a selfie with them.
Lightning coach Jon Cooper celebrates with Andrei Vasilevskiy (88), Nikita Kucherov (86) and Mikhail Sergachev (98) after he took a selfie with them. [ DIRK SHADD | Times ]
Related: 'I can't wait to see drunk Kucherov' for a second year' Twitter reacts to Lightning winning streak

“I’ve been in love with those guys, ups and downs,” he said. “I said one time, you give us one time to win, we’re going to win twice, and that’s what happened.”

But he realized the history of the moment.

“Back-to-back. I couldn’t sleep for three nights, you know, and to be able to win this game is huge,” Kucherov said.

Related: Kucherov's playoff run is 'something we've never seen'

He also gave props to goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, who did win the Conn Smythe as the postseason MVP.

“Vasy was outstanding. MVP. I was telling him every day: ‘Vasy, you’re MVP. You’re the best player,’ and then they give (the Vezina to) whatever the guy in Vegas division (Marc-Andre Fleury) and then last year they gave Vezina to somebody else (Connor Hellebuyck). ...

“Vasy took both Cups, you know, he took MVP and I was keep telling him he’s an MVP. ... He stood on his head (Wednesday night). He kept us in the game and another shoutout by him. Remarkable. Can’t even tell more.”

As veteran sports writer Matt Loede noted: “In a world of memorable press conferences, Kucherov’s post-game rant will live on for a long time to come.”

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