We don’t quite know what happened with Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov at the 2024 NHL Skills Competition, but the end result was a performance so lackadaisical that it almost shot the moon to become entertaining again.
The Skills Competition was held Friday and featured a who’s who of the NHL’s most dynamic players, with the whole group competing for a $1 million prize. As the NHL’s current leader in assists and points, Kucherov was a natural pick to take part.
Unfortunately, Kucherov either decided the competition wasn’t worth his effort or … something else was going on, because what happened simply doesn’t seem conceivable from a player of his skill. He not only finished last, he finished emphatically last, posting only 0.5 points. No other player had fewer than four points.
Kucherov came in last in every challenge that actually involved skating, and still only came in seventh out of 10 in accuracy shooting and fifth in the one-time competition.
The first indication he was in trouble was the passing challenge, when he skated so leisurely the Toronto crowd started booing and a broadcaster said “This is not a good look, quite frankly.”
The stick-handling competition was even more awe-inspiring. Kucherov completed the course in a whopping 44.178 seconds, six seconds longer than the next-slowest.
For reference, here’s what the fastest competitor, Connor McDavid, looked like at 25.755 seconds. McDavid would go on to win the whole thing a few challenges later.
Heck, Elias Pettersson, who fell, finished nearly 15 seconds ahead of Kucherov.
The jokes from fans were just too easy.
either Nikita Kucherov is blacked out drunk or he truly just said “idgaf” about the NHL All-Star skills challenges (both on-brand for him so) pic.twitter.com/re1jHE4aze
— Jade Matthies☻ (@jadematthies) February 3, 2024
Kucherov isn’t the first player to report for duty at an All-Star event and give not even half effort, but this was an effort (or lack thereof) that was particularly brazen. Now we wait and see how much he’s feeling the actual game on Saturday.
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