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Lightning Round: Nikita Kucherov shares details about his recovery process

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“You want to go out there and play, and instead you go to the gym and do the rehab stuff. It was tough“

Florida Panthers v Tampa Bay Lightning - Game Four Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

Following the elimination game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday, the Carolina Hurricanes’ defenceman Dougie Hamilton made a remark, that his team “lost to a team that’s $18 million over the cap“. This quote however was taken out of context by many media outlets, as Hamilton also added that he has no problem with it.

Dougie Hamilton was addressing the Lightning’s cap controversy – couple of weeks before the start of the regular season the Lightning put Nikita Kucherov on LTIR due to his hip surgery, which allowed them to fit under the league’s $81.5M salary cap. After missing the whole regular season due to recovering, Kucherov returned for the first game of the playoffs, helping his team to advance to the semifinals. Although the NHL stated that the Lightning followed the rules making this move, the team have faced a lot of criticism.

Answering about this Hamilton’s statement, Nikita Kucherov himself said that he don’t make the rules and had to go through the rehabilitation.

For a very competitive person as Nikita Kucherov, being out of the action for nearly five months, while his teammates were playing in the regular season, was tough and frustrating. Kucherov had to watch games from a unusual place for him – sitting on tribunes at Amalie Arena and sorting through his mind, how would he play if he was on the ice [Tampa Bay Times]

“It’s just mentally tough,” Kucherov said. “But I had to go through it, and I think I got better at it looking at the game from a different standpoint, like on power plays, how the team plays, how the team defends, how much time I would have if I was there.”

Kucherov also talked about monotony of his rehabilitation, admitting that being with his family helped to stay positive during those months [Tampa Bay Times]

“It’s really annoying, and you get down on yourself sometimes,” Kucherov said. “You want to go out there and play, and instead you go to the gym and do the rehab stuff. It was tough. You get home from the game and guys are feeling good, and I’m like, ‘Tomorrow is the same thing.

So I was trying to find a way to stay positive and to be with my family a little bit, too, see my son grow. That helped me a lot, getting away from the game a little bit and not thinking too much about it. It wasn’t easy, but I think I got a lot stronger mentally, and I understand what it takes to go through it.”

The Lightning’s head coach Jon Cooper also mentioned that he’s glad that Kucherov got to play in the playoffs [Tampa Bay Times]

“That’s the huge mental growth, but it’s tough,” Cooper said. “Hockey players, their shelf life is their 20s, and if they’re lucky, you get to play into your early 30s now. And if you lose a whole year, that has to be tough. I understand players are getting paid and stuff like that, but there’s so much more to it. It’s your job, and you don’t get to play it forever, and to have one of those years taken away, that has to be tough on your mind.

Currently Nikita Kucherov leads the league with 18 points in 11 playoff games, while also leading the league in power play points and assists

Lightning Links

The Syracuse Crunch continued presenting winners of their annual awards. Boris Katchouk became the Offensive Player of the Year, after recording 34 (11+23) points in 29 regular season games.

The capacity for the Lightning’s home games in the Stanley Cup Semifinals have been increased to 14,800 fans.

The NBC presented their broadcast teams for the semifinals matchups.

Hockey News

The NHL revealed their finalists for the 2020-21 Jack Adams Award.

The first winners of the 2021 NHL Awards will be presented next Monday.