Lightning’s Nikita Kucherov, Victor Hedman played hurt to win Cup – Toronto Sun

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Nikita Kucherov, centre, of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates during the Stanley Cup victory rally at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on July 12, 2021 in Tampa, Fla.
Nikita Kucherov, centre, of the Tampa Bay Lightning celebrates during the Stanley Cup victory rally at Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park on July 12, 2021 in Tampa, Fla. Photo by Mike Ehrmann /Getty Images

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In hockey, perhaps more than any other sport, the cumulative toll of injuries is part of the cost of winning a championship.

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En route to winning their second straight Stanley Cup, the Tampa Bay Lightning coped with their share of injuries to some of their key players, ones that went far beyond the standard bumps and bruises.

Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois revealed to the media Tuesday that defenceman Victor Hedman played on a torn meniscus for the length of the Stanley Cup playoffs, and star winger Nikita Kucherov played the Stanley Cup Final with a broken rib.

Hedman’s meniscus injury occurred March 30. Tampa Bay said he underwent surgery Tuesday to repair the meniscus and will only miss 3-4 weeks.

Kucherov suffered a non-displaced rib fracture in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Islanders.

“He played with a flak jacket from that point on, and also had a nerve block injection the day before every game,” BriseBois said. “It makes his performance during these playoffs both before the injury and post-broken rib all the more impressive.”

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Kucherov, the 2019 Hart Trophy winner who missed the 2020-21 regular season following hip surgery, led Tampa Bay in postseason scoring with 32 points (eight goals, 24 assists). Hedman contributed two goals and 16 assists throughout the playoffs.

The list of injuries didn’t end there. Defenceman Ryan McDonagh and forward Barclay Goodrow both played through broken hands during the playoffs. And forward Alex Killorn suffered a broken leg blocking a shot in Game 1 of the Final against the Montreal Canadiens, yet tried (albeit unsuccessfully) to get back into the series by having a rod inserted into the injured leg.

“That’s how you win a Stanley Cup,” BriseBois said. “All the competing through injury, it was outstanding and so inspiring to watch on a game-in, game-out basis.”

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