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Lightning Round: Nikita Kucherov has memorable night at the skills competition

Feb 2, 2024; Toronto, Ontario, CANADA; Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov (86) during the stick handling competition during the NHL All-Star Skills Competition at Scotiabank Arena. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Anyone who knows anything about Nikita Kucherov knows that his work ethic is off the charts. They would also know that his tolerance for b.s. is minimal at best. I think we can add all-star skills competitions to the things that he would consider b.s. Scheduled to compete in four events, the Lightning superstar may not have been at the top of his game.

In the one-timers challenge he finished next to last.

In the passing challenge he finished tied for last.

In the accuracy challenge he finished last.

In the stick handling he finished last.

The Toronto crowd let him have it with a cascade of boos during the passing challenge when it was apparent that his engagement level wasn’t quite at 100%:

He did not qualify for the later rounds and his night was done early. Following the competition, he insisted that he was having fun out there, “It was fun. I had a lot of fun and I enjoyed it. It was a cool new, kinda of drills and it wasn’t my night, but you know, I enjoyed it.”

Was it an epic troll job? Was he participating only because the league insisted he be there? Who knows. While fans of other franchises got way too worked up about it, we all know that he loves hockey, he loves winning, and he loves doing anything he can to improve his game and help his team win. Chances are he’ll be back on his game today during the 3-on-3 tournament when he has a chance to help his team win $1 million.

While the Lightning aren’t back in Toronto until April 3rd, I’m pretty sure the fans in The Big Smoke won’t forget and will greet him with even more boos (especially if the Leafs and Lightning are battling for a spot).

In other news, Connor McDavid actually won the skills competition.

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