Nikita Kucherov on Artemi Panarin and return of The Triplets: translation from Sport-Express.ru
Now we must all wonder — what was Kuch so busy with during that first period intermission of the Chicago game?
After the game against Blackhawks, Russian journalist Victoria Bulakhova of Sport-Express.ru talked to Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov about Artemi Panarin and his new (old?) linemates.
If you use this translated text in any way, please credit original author Victoria Bulakhova of Sport-Express.ru and translator Igor Nikonov (@nikonov_igor) of Raw Charge.
Victoria Bulakhova: 33 shots in the second period of the game against Chicago is the new NHL record. What did Jon Cooper say after the first period?
Nikita Kucherov: I don’t even know. I was probably busy with something. I just can’t remember.
Bulakhova: You are back on the line with Ondrej Palat and Tyler Johnson, your former linemates. Triplets are on fire again?
Kucherov: I wouldn’t say this is some kind of reunion, just the coach’s decision. Every player on the team is skilled and it wouldn’t be a problem at all to find chemistry with any of them. Yes, I’ve played with Ondrej and Tyler, and we’ve had some success. But it doesn’t really matter who your linemate is.
Bulakhova: Do you miss Steven Stamkos?
Kucherov: Yes, we had really great chemistry last season. Now I’m trying to get used to Johnson and Palat again, we’re talking after games a lot, trying to find moments when you need to keep the puck, not shoot immediately. Those things are becoming better with every game.
Bulakhova: You were really good with Stamkos at the start of last season. What do you need to do to get these conditions back?
Kucherov: We played very easy hockey with a lot of communication. We were enjoying the hockey, but coach decided to separate us without a reason. Don’t know what to say.
Bulakhova: What was your reaction when Steve Yzerman announced that he’s stepping down as a general manager of the Lightning?
Kucherov: I don’t really mind, just like the others in the team, I think. What’s happening up there is not our business. Our goals stay the same. I’m playing every game, we have a coach. That’s it.
Bulakhova: Your photo with Artemi Panarin and Andrei Vasilevskiy was really popular last summer. Would you like to see Artemi in the Lightning? Do you think it’s possible?
Kucherov: Sure! He is a great player. He would be a great addition to our team and it would be nice to have another Russian. We practiced together last summer, enjoyed every second of it. Sure, it would be great to get him. But it’s probably not easy.
Bulakhova: Do you think he could take a discount just to play with you?
Kucherov: Well, Panara [Panarin] costs a lot. It wouldn’t be easy. But he can make any team stronger.
Bulakhova: You have the same agent. Did you talk with him about your reunion?
Kucherov: I don’t think it depends on the agent. If a team doesn’t have cap space, what could he do? We discussed it, but that was just a dream. It would be very hard.
Bulakhova: You are always saying that your team and the Stanley Cup are more important for you. Do you feel things are easier after signing a deal until 2027?
Kucherov: Probably yes. You don’t have to think about contract, money, you can just enjoy the game. And you know that you still have many years ahead, that your game just depends on you and how you prepare for every game.
Bulakhova: You scored 100 points last season and were really close to the Art Ross Trophy… What is your goal this season?
Kucherov: The Stanley Cup. First of all, we need to make playoffs. If you play well then you will have assists and goals. There won’t be points if we don’t play well.
Bulakhova: Auston Matthews has already 16 points…
Kucherov: Good for him. But the season is long, we’ll see.
Bulakhova: Peter Laviolette lost a bet to his players and wore a bull mask during the post-game interview. Could you imagine Jon Cooper doing the same thing?
Kucherov: I’d rather not say things about our coach.