DENVER – For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began in 2020, the NHL held a traditional Stanley Cup media day on Tuesday. Each of the uninjured finalists, Colorado Avalanche and Tampa Bay Lightning, sat on the podium and took questions from reporters.
for the athletewas an opportunity to hear what many players had to say about the various questions related to the tournament – a survey of players like we were able to do in the pre-pandemic days.
What are the Stanley Cup players’ favorite memories of their childhood? Which of their teammates is most likely to return to the Cup Final one day as coach or general manager? What do they think will happen in the last two games of the NBA Finals?
We asked dozens of players, and this is what we heard.
What are your favorite memories of the Stanley Cup growing up?
Cal Makar, Avalanche: As a kid, I was a fan of the Flames so the 2004 Cup Tour was definitely the highlight of my childhood.
JT Comfer, Avalanche: Potentially Patrick Kane would be the overtime winner against Philly (in 2010).
Valery Neshushkin, Avalanche: When I was young, I didn’t watch hockey much, so it’s hard (to think of) a distinct game. I think Yevgeny owns the first one (in 2009). He is from Magnitogorsk, Russia. His town is close to mine. I remember how big it was – news, TV, everything.
Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche: I was a young man from Pittsburgh growing up. 2009 was one I remember. I was watching Game 7 in Finland even though it was the middle of the night. …Don’t tell (teammate Darren Helm, a former Red winger) that I said that, even though I think he won the year before.
Jack Johnson, Avalanche: I remember going into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a kid, a little kid. I co-starred in Toronto. I got a trophy in the Hall of Fame. I never touched it for any reason, so that was a good thing. This was one of the things that stood out: seeing it in person. But I watched it on TV. Especially as a kid growing up in Detroit, I remember the Red Wings winning back-to-back (in 1997 and 1998), and Yzerman lifting the trophy. I remember when the Avs beat Florida in Game 4 (in 1996). I hardly remember the New York win (1994). That’s about it.
Eric Johnson, Avalanche: I remember when Colorado won the cup in 01. I remember when Rangers beat the Canucks in 94. I have a lot of good memories of him. I remember Ray Burke getting the trophy.
Alex Newhawk, Avalanche: What I remember most is when Danny Cleary won it (with Detroit in 2008). I just remember being very young and watching him in the cup final, everyone in Newfoundland was so excited. I remember hearing stories about him growing up at home, and when he won it, he brought it home and everything that made it sound real, made it possible for guys like me to come and get to that point. A big moment for me.
Pavel Francoz, Avalanche: Certainly when some Czech players played in the cup like Dominic Hasek with the Red Wings. Also, my favorite memory was when Tim Thomas won the Cup with Boston.
Logan O’Connor, Avalanche: I think watching the Penguins and Sidney Crosby was so cool and all the hard work he put in and the expectations he had as a player. It’s not too long ago, but it’s great to see what he’s accomplished and the legacy he has now.
Darren Helm, Avalanche: I haven’t watched a lot of hockey. Probably the most memorable target was Dallas (1999), where there was some sort of controversial target.
Andrei Burakovsky, Avalanche: I remember ’01, an avalanche in the final and Peter Forsberg and all those guys. Forsberg was one of my favorite players growing up. So is Detroit with Niklas Liedstrom and Henrik Zetterberg and all those guys.
Josh Manson, Avalanche: I only have a bitter feeling when my father (Dave Manson) went missing. I was in the game in Dallas when they lost to New Jersey (2000), and that was tough. I was young, but I realized how much they were playing for, all the hard work he put into his career. And losing, it was tough. You’ve stuck with me all my life, how hard it is to win the Stanley Cup, and you can’t take it for granted. Winning is not easy.
Cal Foot, Lightning: Honestly, 01. I don’t really remember much, but the family win, that’s pretty cool.
Nikita Kucherov, Lightning: As a kid, I never watched the NHL. We didn’t have the right channel. All I remember are the pictures. … all the Russians who won the Stanley Cup, I had those pictures on the wall. This is something I wanted to do as a kid.
Mikhail Sergeachev, Lightning: I never watched the NHL until I was 16 when I came to Canada. I was mainly watching KHL. … But there were young people in the world, 2011, when Russia beat Canada.
Ryan McDonagh, Lightning: I follow the NFL a lot with my uncle (Steve Walsh) playing in the NFL. …I remember watching a lot of the Detroit Red Wings and the success they had. They used to be on ESPN, you’d always hear the name Chris Chelios and started following the Hall of Fame career he had. Some of those moments in the Red Wings Cup will be one of my earliest memories.
Corey Berry, Lightning: You came to school in the morning, so you watched some matches but you don’t know who will win. I remember, when I woke up in the morning, this was the first thing I did: Try to figure out who had won the Stanley Cup.
The penguins of 2009 and the avalanche of 2001 – perhaps with the help of revisionist history of Colorado players – have been linked for the most popular answer.
Which hidden player on your team could score a big goal in the Stanley Cup Final?
rantanin: Pretty much anyone. I don’t want to pick one guy because a lot of guys play really well, under the radar. We have a lot of good players, like Cal and (Nathan McKinnon) in the lead – these guys get the most recognition – but we have a lot of guys playing well.
Anthony Cirelli, The Lightning: maybe me. I didn’t score much in these qualifiers.
come in: McDonagh.
Alex Killorn, Lightning: (Ondrige) Bales. He just got a talent. You always know where you are. I just got it.
Zach Bogosian, The Lightning: Cirelli. He had a great appearance. All the knockout matches have been talked about in terms of how well he can defend, but he will score a huge goal.
call tone: Bales. He has had a lot of success. Whenever we need a big play, a goal, an assist, or a broken shot, he does it all. It is not talked about (about) as much as other men do.
Jan Ruta, The Lightning: Ross Colton.
Nick Paul, Lightning: Brandon Hagel.
The leaders of this question, in two articles, were “anyone” from Colorado and Cirelli and Balat from Tampa Bay, although it should be noted that The data was affected by the question-takers only getting a chance to ask two Avalanche players.
What sports tournament other than hockey would be the most fun to play in?
comfer: Growing up, I would probably say baseball. Now, I might say golf. Gentlemen.
Nishushkin: I am tall (6 feet – 4). Maybe basketball. I played soccer quite a bit when I was young because it’s a huge sport in Russia, so I like soccer a lot too.
rantanin: I’m from Europe and a big football guy. Or as we call it football. You guys call it football. Maybe World Cup football is the thing for me.
Newhook: The masters would be great I don’t have the goods to get there, but it would be great to play in it.
O’Connor: It will be hard to beat the masters.
Manson: (I’d like) to be a stretch master with a lead. That would be surreal.
frankose: world Cup.
Eric Johnson: The teachers will be very sweet.
Burakovsky: I played football growing up so if I had to pick one it would probably be the Champions League.
come in: Energy.
Sergechev: The NBA Finals.
Brian Elliott, Lightning: I might go to a baseball game. I’m not a baseball player, but the baseball playoffs are very intense. Every step means a lot.
Bogosian: Energy. One game, everything is at stake. That would be great.
call tone: The Super Bowl is going to be really cool. I never played football. I’ve always played baseball, so maybe it was the Super Bowl or the World Championships.
Rota: UEFA Champions League Final.
For those who don’t track alone…
The NBA Finals
What is the prediction for the NBA Finals?
comfer: Golden State leads 3-2. I don’t think you’re betting on Steve (Carey) right now.
Newhook: I love the Celtics, I just play (college hockey) in Boston. I know a lot of people in town so it would be great to see them win it.
O’Connor: At this point, it’s probably Golden State, although I haven’t seen much.
Eric Johnson: I don’t follow basketball, but I love watching Steve Curry play.
Manson: I went to college in Boston. Take Celtex. Maybe they win one in the house and steal (Game 7).
Burakovsky: Golden State.
Cirelli: Golden State.
call tone: Golden State.
Sergechev: Golden State.
pee: I want to say Boston, but I think the Golden State would.
Rota: Last night was probably the first basketball game I’ve watched in 10 years. The warriors seemed to be in good shape.
Which player or players who did not reach the Stanley Cup Final have impressed you the most?
comfer: This is the top line in Florida. (Auston) Matthews. Apparently he’s playing against (Conor) McDavid, (Leon) Drystel. Probably the best players.
Newhook: Obviously McDavid and Draisaitl – these two guys have had an exceptional post-season. I thought (Ryan) O’Reilly was really effective when we played him. Maybe he doesn’t stand out like McDavid and Draisaitl, but in his role and style, I thought he was really effective.
O’Connor: McDavid is clear. The guys who probably wouldn’t get as much attention would be (David) Byron and O’Reilly. These guys played really well in that series.
Leadership: Nashville guard, Conor Ingram. I thought he did a great job when he got into a tough situation.
Burakovsky: McDavid is always one. I played with him at Erie in juniors. What he was doing was incredible. I am really happy for him.
Manson: (Draisaitl) He was playing with injuries and he was making things happen. That was really impressive.
Among your teammates, who could return to the Stanley Cup as a coach or general manager?
Jack Johnson: Maybe I’ll have to go with Gabriel Landskog. He is a beautiful, balanced man. I think he could be able to make some decisions where he can separate some feelings from thought.
Newhook: I will say maybe Gabe. He has that leadership trait and I can see him leading a team from any side, including GM.
frankose: Landy has a good chance to be a good manager.
Eric Johnson: I could see Gabe do it. I don’t know if he’ll live here when he’s done playing. I don’t know if his wife would let him. But maybe he is.
O’Connor: I could see Cogliano at one point. He’s been in the league for a long time. He is very smart. You don’t play 1200 games without having a good understanding of the game.
Burakovsky: I could see Gabe or McKinnon.
Manson: Cogliano. Maybe as General Motors. He has a good sense of what is going on with the team, what the players might be working with in the roles, and the system. He is a very analytical person. He thinks of things and when he speaks you listen. Usually, he hits the nail in the head.
come in: Patrick Maron.
Killorn: Stammer (Steven Stamkos) will be a great art director one day. Fitness Trainer? not me. I’m not sure any of our guys would want to follow in John Cooper’s footsteps. The hard guy is on top.
Bogosian: McDonagh (as GM).
pee: I think (Bryden) Point would be a good coach.
Rota: (Victor) Hedman as General Manager.
Sergechev: It could be Stammer GM. Heddy could be a general manager. It actually plays with the FIFA GM. Kucherov was a good coach, but not a head coach. resents.
McDonagh: I would say Stammer is as much a GM, a team building. …he has only grown up watching hockey his whole life. He only knows the history and what it takes to win and all the important things to help build the team.
Berry: Ryan McDonagh.
(Top photo on Nathan McKinnon: Ron Chinoy/USA Today)