Dan Milstein Has No Chill, Patrick Kane Wins an ESPY, and Other Blackhawks Bullets

If you’re like me, you used to think that the annual ESPN “ESPY” Awards meant something. Finally, an award show to honor my favorite plays, games, teams, players, and moments from the year in sports. As a kid, it was awesome to have an Oscars-style show for sports. As you grow up, and as I started to watch sports in different ways, the ESPYs became less relevant. Also, the fact that they are completely voted on by fans is a nice touch, but often can leave you with a winner of an award that sometimes doesn’t deserve it at all.

•   For example, last night’s ESPY awards.

•   For the category of Best NHL Player, the nominees were: Andrei Vasilevskiy, Auston Matthews, Patrick Kane, and Connor McDavid. And your winner is…

•   Huh.

•   Look, Patrick Kane is an incredible talent and still one of the top-ten players in the league. He was the best player on the Blackhawks this season, but that is nothing compared to the seasons that the other three nominees had. In all likelihood, most fans voting for the ESPY awards are American-based, non-hockey fans. The only name on the list that the maybe even remotely knew was probably Kane’s from the days when the Blackhawks were must-see NHL TV. The fact that Connor McDavid had one of the best season’s in league history and no one in the ESPYs voting public knows who he is is as much a problem for the NHL as it will be for ESPN and Turner Sports to fix.

•   While Kane’s win is a fun accomplishment in his career, I’m sure it’s low on his priority list of awards he’s received. Sure seems like Andre Vasilevskiy has gotten over it easily.

•   From left to right, that’s Mikhail Sergachev, Nikita Kucherov, NHL agent Dan Milstein, and Andrei Vasilevskiy, enjoying some newly sponsored Bud Light as the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to celebrate winning back-to-back Stanley Cups. Milstein is the agent for Kucherov and Vasilevskiy, as well a a myriad of other top Russian players (including Nikita Zadorov), and has been living it up with his best clients.

•   Also, check out those shirts featuring Kucherov and his legendary post-Stanley Cup press conference. The turnaround on those is impressive. And it appears that won’t be the only trolling T-Shirt to come out of the Lightning’s third Stanley Cup Championship in franchise history…

•   Can’t wait to see those.

•   Milstein has a lot of fish to fry this offseason with a number of his clients, but with Vasilevskiy and Kucherov at the top of the NHL mountain, it’s easy to see why he’s taking some time to really enjoy this second Stanley Cup run.

•   Not the greatest piece of artwork, but it’s effective.

•   Speaking of artwork, I always love the mascot cartoon depiction of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

•   My favorite part is the shellshocked “Hunter,” the mascot for the Edmonton Oilers, who were swept in the first round by the Winnipeg Jets after being one of the Stanley Cup favorites.

•   And as we close the book on the season, one last cinematic trip through Tampa Bay’s victorious Game Five and winning the Stanley Cup…

•   Here’s one thing that I’ve heard floated out there since the end of the Stanley Cup playoffs that I find extremely hard to imagine, but at the same time, extremely interesting to ponder as a real possibility…Do the Lightning need Steven Stamkos?

•   *pause for laughter* No really, think about it. When watching the Stanley Cup playoffs this year and last year, would the Tampa Bay Lightning be hard-pressed to find the same amount of success without Stamkos? They did last year. At 31-years old, Stamkos is still an elite-level talent in the NHL and very worthy of his $8.5M AAV cap hit, which he still has three years left on his current deal. But on the Lightning, Stamkos is maybe their fifth-best player and as you look up and down the roster, one of the few players who you could actually imagine the team trading, getting major assets for, and not losing much of their Stanley Cup-caliber talent.

•   Just something to ponder as the offseason begins and the Lightning face potentially major losses to fit back underneath the flat $81.5M NHL salary cap.

•    Back in Blackhawks world, a Happy 33rd Birthday to Ben Smith!

•   A 2013 Stanley Cup Champion with the Blackhawks and 2018 Calder Cup Champion with the Toronto Marlies, Smith was one of those unsung players that the “One Goal” era Blackhawks likely couldn’t have won without.

•   Still likely Smith’s best individual moment as a member of the Blackhawks.

•   Also mentioning the Blackhawks and Connor McDavid, and Hunter too, in the same bullets post and I cannot go without mentioning Duncan Keith. Still waiting on an official word on a trade between the Blackhawks and Oilers to send the future Hall of Famer to Edmonton. There are a ton of big names available, potentially, this offseason and the Oilers are one of those teams on the cusp of being a real Stanley Cup contender. Much of that is because of McDavid. As Michael Amato puts it here, are the Oilers actually going to make this potential Keith deal their “splash” this offseason?

•   Also going on last night, if you weren’t glued to the ESPYs, was UFC 264 in Las Vegas, headlined by the trilogy fight between Dustin Poirier and Conor McGregor. A marquee event that drew some recognizable NHL faces to the crowd…

•   Matthews and his dad, I mean teammate Joe Thornton took in the fights last night. As well as actual family members Brady and Matthew Tkachuk.

•   The fight, itself, if you didn’t watch or hear about it on Twitter last night, was an entertaining 4:50 minutes of action before McGregor stepped wrong and landed awkwardly on his ankle, snapping his leg and ending the fight in the first round.

•   Poirier wins the fight on that technicality, but he was already winning the fight anyway. Either way, Brady still feels strongly about McGregor’s legacy.

•   Part of McGregor’s legacy is his trash-talking and skills on the microphone. After the injury ended last night’s fights, his post-fight interview was vintage McGregor and Blackhawks forward Adam Gaudette was certainly enjoying it.

•   I don’t have ESPN+, so I had to search for the ankle injury to see it for myself because I’m a sicko like that. I watch so you don’t have the bear the burden of having to watch it yourself. It’s not the worst ankle/leg break I’ve seen, but then again, their never fun to look at. Maybe skip it if you are squeamish.

•   Wanting to end today on a better note, take a moment to read through the latest from The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline on Matiss Kivlenieks as he talks with the late goaltender’s Mom about her son’s life and memory and the impact he had on the people around him.

•   Kivlenieks was a great kid from all accounts. Such a sad loss, but a great remembrance from his Mom.

•   That will do it for today. Enjoy your Sunday!

•   REMINDER: Be sure to send in your questions for Monday’s Mailbag segment! Use the hashtag #BNHawksMailbag on Twitter or send them to Mario.tirabassi at bleacher nation dot com.

written by

Mario Tirabassi is a writer for Bleacher Nation. You can follow him on Twitter @Mario_Tirabassi.

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