Game On…with Rob Kriete! – JULY 7

Honest Talk from a Bolts star

While winning two Stanley Cup Championships in the span of nine months, the Tampa Bay Lightning made NHL history this week. Tampa was pushed to a seventh game against the Islanders of New York before dismantling Montreal in five games for the franchise’s third cup.

There was, of course, the issue with Canada that disallowed Lightning family members (and fans) from attending the games north of the border. Nevertheless, Tampa Mayor Jan Castor joked earlier this week that, by losing Game Four, the Lightning would be able to celebrate on their home ice. So, no sweep and that upset the youngest Bolts fan as you see on my featured photo, but still a sweet Stanley Cup series for Tampa Bay.

The Bolts are an elite hockey team of players and coaches who genuinely like each other. This was made crystal clear by Lightning star Nikita Kucherov who was open and honest during a shirtless, beer-drinking, post-game interview. Kucherov gushed over his goalie and good friend, Vasilevskiy: “If he played in a different market, he would win the Vezina every year.” Nikita, who underwent hip surgery in December, was out for the entire regular season but was sensational in the playoffs scoring a league-high 32 points. To me, it was Kucherov’s honesty in his interview that was so much fun and refreshing.

Kucherov shared his thoughts on, well, everything. He was so pumped for the victory that the commonplace “filter” that many athletes and coaches use in these exchanges with the media was removed. I thoroughly appreciate honesty, and Nikita brought it on Wednesday evening. Sure, he may have thrown some shade at some other goalies in the NHL while complimenting his own, but it doesn’t make him wrong. Now, although I always advocate for honesty, it is not synonymous with nastiness which we all know is alive and well in the anonymity of the internet. Call it as you see it, but do so respectfully. Kucherov did precisely that the other night. Pretty much it was, “no offense to those that won previous Vezinas, but Vasilevsky is better and more deserving.” Hey, I like it.

Nikita also spoke glowingly of many of his teammates, including captain Steven Stamkos calling him a great and funny player. When talking about the fans of Montreal, Kucherov added, “I’m so happy. I didn’t want to go back to Montreal. The fans in Montreal, come on. They acted like they won the Stanley Cup last game. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was the last series, OK?” I would expect the Russian star to hear it next year when the Lightning go to Canada, but once again, he spoke his truth and in his second language no less.

“Honesty is such a lonely word. Everyone so untrue,” Billy Joel once crooned in the 70’s. Overall, I agree with Billy. The Internet has made honesty harder to find than ever before. Perhaps that is why Nikita Kucherov’s presser was as refreshing as cold lemonade on a hot day.

Be honest while being nice, everyone.

Be safe!