Nikita Kucherov took another step forward for the Tampa Bay Lightning this season after being given a three-year deal, but he can’t say the same for some of his teammates. In a translated interview with Pavel Lysenkov of Sovietsky Sport (h/t Sergey Demidov of NHL.com) Kucherov made it clear that not all his teammates were working hard enough this year.
…some guys overstayed in team. They’ve got their money and stopped working. They knew there’s no competition for their positions and organization is not going to take someone else. They played not really well this year—you can see it in their stats and way of play.
Kucherov’s agent Dan Milstein got in contact with Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times to explain the comments, saying that the translation is accurate and that he doesn’t feel like every player is “on board to win.” His agent also told Smith that Kucherov hopes to play his entire career for Tampa Bay “like his GM”—Steve Yzerman famously spent his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings before moving into management.
- Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet confirmed that Jim Montgomery interviewed in Florida for the vacant Panthers head coach position, but that the team will continue to look at all options before making a decision. Montgomery is coming off a national championship with the University of Denver, and has been rumored for all of the openings around the league this spring. The former NHL journeyman is a lock for a professional head coaching job eventually, and at just 47 years old has a long career still ahead of him in the industry.
- In the newest article from Rick Westhead of TSN, he reports that the league increased their screening for both marijuana and cocaine this year, testing all 2,300 samples for recreational drugs. The NHL doesn’t suspend players who test positive for recreational drugs, but does monitor it and enroll players in substance abuse programs if deemed necessary. While the increase in screening—up from just 800 of the samples in 2015—shows the leagues increasing awareness of a rising problem among NHL players. Westhead cites two different criminal offenses from the past that involved cocaine, and rumors have persisted for years about the drug being used throughout the league. The testing will likely continue next season, with perhaps even more steps being taken to squash the problem if it indeed continued this season.