The Conn Smythe Trophy choice came down to Tampa Bay Lightning leading scorer Nikita Kucherov (32 points) and goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (five shutouts).
Vasilevskiy walked away with the award Wednesday, but Kucherov was the MVP of the postgame news conferences after the Lightning won their second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.
Showing up for the Zoom session shirtless and drinking a beer, he went on a rant about Vezina Trophy voters and Montreal Canadiens fans.
Vasilevskiy is a four-time finalist for the goaltending award, but general managers gave it to the Vegas Golden Knights’ Marc-Andre Fleury this season in a close vote.
“Vasy was outstanding. MVP,” said Kucherov. “I was telling him every day, Vasy MVP. You’re the best player. And they give it to whatever the guy in Vegas, the Vezina. And last year, they gave Vezina to somebody else. No. 1 (expletive). No. 1 (expletive).
Vasilevskiy gave the Lightning the win in Game 5 with a 22-save shutout. Kucherov was grateful because he didn’t want to go back to Montreal for Game 6.
“They acted, the fans in Montreal, like they won the Stanley Cup last game. Are you kidding me? Are you kidding me? Their final was last series.”
When answering the next question, someone brought him another drink and he pointed out it was Bud Light, not champagne.
“That’s the No. 1 (expletive) again,” he said.
But he got serious when talking about sharing another championship with his longtime teammates.
“I’ve been in love with those guys, ups and downs,” he said. “I said one time, you give us one time to win, we’re going to win twice, and that’s what happened.”
Kucherov had missed the regular season after having offseason hip surgery but returned for Game 1 of the playoffs.
“Just to miss the whole season and come back in the playoffs and get (the most) points for the second playoffs (in a row) is amazing,” Vasilevskiy said. “Great player. Great personality, and to be honest, I was surprised he didn’t get the Conn Smythe.”