Florida Panthers complain to the NHL about Nikita Kucherov's return

Published May 20, 2021 at 8:31

NHL fans are finally entitled to a long-awaited Stanley Cup Playoff game - the Battle of Florida.

Tampa Bay Lightning started their title defense against rival Florida Panthers. So far, the series has followed the Tampa path as they return home to Amalie Arena with a 2-0 lead in the series.

But it was the major boost the Lightning received before the series that got everyone talking.

Superstar forward Nikita Kucherov, who had missed the entire 2020-21 regular season after undergoing hip surgery, returned in time for the series and immediately made his presence known by scoring twice in Game 1.

Kucherov had been at LTIR all season and, of course, there is no salary cap during the playoffs.

So, do the Panthers themselves believe there is something fishy going on? Apparently not.

«No, I don't think there's a workaround,» Panthers general manager Bill Zito told The Athletic. «Everything is in the rules. From our perspective, it's all over the edge. He's a good player, obviously. Julien is a smart guy. There is no problem with the integrity of any of this. "

Head coach Joel Quenneville has said so, saying Tampa Bay is operating by the rules.

«I'm not complaining,» said Joel Quenneville. "It's like that. That's one of the rules, you take care of it. He was part of their team last year and therefore not as if he had not been with them. So no complaints here. ''

So what did the League itself have to say about the situation?

«Yes, we did, along with a number of other cases involving the use of LTI,» said NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. "We have determined that the provision is being invoked and applied in a manner consistent with the requirements of the CBA."

According to Kucherov's agent Dan Milstein, the Lightning would have been faced with the task of freeing up space to accommodate the return of the Russian star.

"Kuch is one of those guys, if he could have played in March he would have played in March and it would have been Julien's problem to free him up (limit)," Milstein said. «And don't worry, I would have called the NHLPA. I would have struggled to get my client back to the ice sooner if I could. ''

«It really is a miracle for him to come back so quickly,» Milstein said. «To be honest with you, I think he started playing a little earlier than he should have. But it's Kuch, you can't hold this guy back. ''
May 20   |   237 answers
Florida Panthers complain to the NHL about Nikita Kucherov's return

Did Tampa do something illegal with the arrival of Kucherov game 1?

Yes10845.6 %
No12954.4 %
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