Kucherov has a point in defending Vasy

by Gary Shelton on July 13, 2021

in general

Nikita Kucherov votes for Vasilevskiy./CHUCK MULLER

Tuesday, 4 a.m.

At last count, Nikita Kucherov was, in no particular order, opinionated, shirtless, profane and somewhat intoxicated.

He was also correct.

Say this for Kuch. For all the points he made in the offseason -- technically, it was a lot -- he made more in his beer-fueled post-press conference on Wednesday night. He ribbed the Montreal fans for acting like winning one game of the best-of-seven series was a reason to buy snow-cones.

Content beyond this point is for members only.

Already a member? To view the rest of this column, sign in using the handy "Sign In" button located in the upper right corner of the GarySheltonSports.com blog (it's at the far right of the navigation bar under Gary's photo)!

Not a member? It's easy to subscribe so you can view the rest of this column and all other premium content on GarySheltonSports.com.

(One headline read: "What Canadiens Did in Game Four They Didn't Do Before." What did they do? They won a one-goal game in overtime when the Lightning kept hitting the post. It still counts, but it wasn't exactly The Charge of the Light Brigade."

So Kucherov -- a guy who usually has very little to say -- made the best defense anyone has ever made about Andrei Vasilevskiy's failure to win the Vezina Trophy in either of the last two years. Hey, maybe it's just me, but I think Kuch should be required to pound a six-pack before every interview. Things certainly would be livelier.

"Vasy was outstanding," Kucherov said. "I was telling him every day, you MVP. You the best player. And then they give -- whatever the guy on Vegas -- the Vezina and then last year, they gave the Vezina to someone else. Number one bull****. Number one bull----. Vasy took both cups. And then he took MVP. He was the guy that f******, he's the best. He stood on his head. He kept us in the game. Another shutout by him. Remarkable."

True, it was quite the comedy show, and it alienated Kuch in Montreal, in Vegas (where Vezina winner Marc-Andre Fleury plays, in Winnipeg (where Connor Hellebuyck (who won last year's Vein plays) and all lovers of the grand cliches of hockey live.

But he's right.

You guys know how I feel about awards that are given before the season is over. It's like giving a Pulitzer Prize for literature based on the first half of a book. If you're having an award for a season, make it for the whole season.

What? Do you think the Vezina would be less prestigious if it came out, say, today? Or the Selke or any other award. Of course not. This season (like most seasons) will be remembered for its champion.

So forget that Vasilevskiy won five more regular season games than Fleury and seven more post-season games. Forget last year that Vasilevskiy won four more games in the regular season and 17 more in the playoffs. The important thing is that he did it at the most important time of the year.

There are certain seasonal awards that seem like a joke in the distance. This will be one of those. Future voters will look at this season, and note that Vasilevskiy didn't win, and wonder "did he steal Gary Bettman's dog?"

Hey, I don't want to know the Heisman Trophy winner in December. I don't want to know the World Series MVP in August. I don't want to know the Super Bowl MVP on Wild Card Weekend. We live in the day of instantaneous results. You can wait until things are over. The MVP of a sport is still a big deal.

Oh, I get it. Kuch isn't popular because he missed all season and starred n the playoffs. Most places, that would be a story of perseverance and determination. But some say the Lightning skirted the rules (they didn't; it's completely legal. Chicago did it with Patrick Kane in 2015).

The thing is, the loss of the Vezina doesn't seem to be spoiling Vasilevskiy's day at all. That was him wearing the Conn Smythe Award on his head Monday during the Rain after the Reign.

Here's a deal: Ask Fleury who he thought had the better year. Ask Hellebuyck who had the better year last year. Ask the voters if they had too\ vote now.

I'm betting that everyone says that Vasilevskiy rules.

And shouldn't that be worth remembering?

Previous post:

Next post: