TAMPA, Florida – Tampa Bay Lightning manager Jon Cooper held a brief and tense press conference following the Stanley Cup 4 final defeat on Wednesday night during which he questioned the legality of central Colorado Avalanche’s winning goal Nazem Kadri in extra time.
Cooper rambled for a minute about his love of the NHL and his team’s journey to consecutive Stanley Cup championships before focusing on Kadri’s goal at 12:02 in overtime, which gave Avalanche a 3-point lead. -1 in the series.
“This is going to sting a lot more than the others, just because he was coping … he was potentially … I don’t know … it’s hard for me. It will be hard for me to talk. I’ll have to talk. I’ll talk to you tomorrow,” she said. “You’ll see what I mean when you see the winning goal. And my heart breaks for the players. Because we should probably still play.”
That said, Cooper apologized after just one question.
Speculation after the game was that Lightning thought Avalanche had six skaters on the ice before the winning goal was scored. There were camera angles showing six Colorado skaters on the ice as Kadri picked up a pass, skated in the zone and beat goalkeeper Andrei Vasilevskiy to the 3-2 win.
The question was whether Nathan MacKinnon was close enough to the Avalanche bench to be considered a “retired player” when his team-mate jumped on the ice and engaged in the game. Skaters must be within 5 feet of the bench and out of play before a substitution is made.
“A penalty by too many men on the ice is a judgment that can be made by any of the four on-ice officials,” NHL Hockey Operations said in a statement. “After the game, the hockey operations met with the four referees as per their normal protocol. In discussing the goal of victory, each of the four referees warned that they did not see too many men on the ice situation during the game.” .
Too many men on the ice infractions are not reviewable, even when a goal is scored.
Fueling conspiracy theories: The NHL distributed a report to the media that had six skaters listed for Avalanche on Kadri’s game winner and then modified that report to list five online skaters.
The NHL said the additional player, defender Erik Johnson, may have ended up on the opening scoresheet due to players jumping off the bench to celebrate after Kadri scored.
Kadri looked puzzled over Cooper’s complaint after the game.
“I’m not quite sure what it really was, what he was thinking because he shouldn’t have counted. That confuses me a little bit,” said Kadri, who played his first game of the series after undergoing thumb surgery in the Western Conference Finals. “The puck hit the back of the net, end of story, so I’m not sure why he would have said that.”
Cooper began his press conference by talking about his team’s quick start before quickly moving on to how difficult the Lightning championship run was, even criticizing the NHL’s salary cap system.
“You know, I love this championship. It’s the biggest championship in the world. The people running it are great. All about it. It’s like a dream come true for me, especially being a Canadian growing up and everything that has happened. , “He said.
“You know, I’ve taken part in some heartbreaking setbacks and losses for the teams that knocked us out, and I’ve been with a group that just fight, fight and fight. And they fought for the third straight Stanley Cup final. And in an era of cap when … when it’s so damn hard and the rules are turned against you because the league wants parity. And I like that about the league. And that’s what makes it more difficult. And look at this team, what they went through and the battle that went on. And we’re all involved in that together. Players, coaches, referees, everyone. “
Game 5 is Friday night in Denver. Teams with a 3-1 best-of-seven lead hold an all-time series record of 298-31 (.906), including a 2-1 (.667) clip in 2022 and a 35-1 ( .972) in the Stanley Cup final.