Tampa Bay Lightning sniper Nikita Kucherov has established himself as Public Enemy No. 1 in Montreal thanks to his actions after last week's Stanley Cup clinching victory over the Canadiens
The shirtless (and most likely inebriated) Kucherov took to the microphone and absolutely dunked on Montreal fans, saying they were acting as if they had just won the Stanley Cup following their Game 4 OT victory to stave off elimination Monday night.
"The fans in Montreal acted like they won the Stanley Cup last game," Kucherov said of Montreal's Game 4 OT win. "Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was last round."
Of course, Kucherov had already drawn the ire not only of Habs fans but of hockey fans everywhere as the Lightning took advantage of a salary cap loophole that saw the Russian forward stay on LTIR all season long, while the Lightning simply replaced his $9.5 million cap hit with other players. And then, he re-appeared just in time for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Despite being perfectly legal according to the rules, that certainly rubbed fans the wrong way.
The Lightning have since revealed that Kucherov played the entire Stanley Cup Final with a broken rib following an incident in which he was cross-checked in Game 6 of the Semi-Finals against the New York Islanders.
"He played with a flak jacket from that point on, and also had a nerve block injection the day before every game," Lightning GM Julien BriseBois said. "It makes his performance during these playoffs both before the injury and post broken rib all the more impressive."
Kucherov led the NHL in playoff points with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists) - again, rubbing fans the wrong way after missing the entire regular season.
"He's a tough hockey player, he's an incredible hockey player," BriseBois said. "There isn't a more determined player out there than Nikita Kucherov."
Of course, it wasn't just Kucherov who was revealed to be playing hurt. Former Norris Trophy winning defenseman Victor Hedman played the entire postseason with a torn meniscus, which he suffered on May 30. Forward Barclay Goodrow and defenseman Ryan McDonagh both played in the postseason with broken hands, while Alex Killorn broke his leg blocking a shot in Game 1 of the Final.
The Lightning sure earned their Cup victory, and they continue to make sure the rest of the hockey world knows it.