Tampa Bay Lightning continue to go out of their way to defend themselves over salary cap games

nikita kucherov game 7
Kucherov and Hedman celebrate [DIRK SHADD | Tampa Bay Times]

Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton made a comment about the Lightning that has touched a nerve.

“We had a great season. We lost to a team that’s $18 million over the cap, or whatever they are,” Hamilton referenced Tampa’s bloated salary cap. “I don’t have a problem with it. You just realize how good that team was.”

This set off a bit of a firestorm with the Lightning starting with Nikita Kucherov yesterday.

Nikita Kucherov fires back, “I didn’t make the rules”

“I didn’t make the rules with the cap” he said. “I didn’t do anything on purpose.” Kucherov also added his surgery and five month of rehab which were not easy to endure. “And when the time came, I was playing.”

Funny how that all perfectly worked out for Game 1 of the playoffs when the salary cap was no longer in effect.

However, Kucherov is right. He did nothing wrong and neither the Tampa Bay Lightning. They played within the rules established by the league. The NHL also does not have a problem with it, as it’s been used by almost every team at some point.

Still, this is a fine example of why there needs to be some reform to the rules. Kucherov was practicing for weeks before the playoffs started, and if was able to play then it would have had serious ramifications to the Lightning roster.

Lightning GM also addresses Hamilton’s comments

lightning salary cap
Julien BriseBois hoists the Stanley Cup. | Photo: Getty Images

Today, Lightning GM Julien BriseBois also addressed the knock on his team’s use of LTIR this season.

Per Joe Smith of The Athletic, BriseBois said that “it was done by the rules.” The GM went on to explain that Tampa had to justify the surgery and rehab program with the league. He also added that the NHL investigated the matter as well.

“Sometimes the stars align for you,” he concluded. Yes, they most certainly did.

Tampa Bay Lightning cap situation irked some GM’s

This season, the Lightning were almost $17 million over the cap. A large chunk of that was used up by Nikita Kucherov who spent the entire regular season on LTIR. The $9.5 million relief was used by Tampa to retain two key RFA’s in Anthony Cirelli and Mikael Sergachev to start the season.

Tampa didn’t stop there.

With other injuries to players like Steven Stamkos, they went out and acquired David Savard at the deadline to boost their defense. A perfect “storm” if you will my Canes fans.

When Kucherov started practicing back in March some GMs were up in arms behind closed doors asking who is monitoring the situation. “They are obliged to make room for him or in theory they can’t use him. Which, again in theory, could affect his playoff availability,” Pierre Lebrun tweeted. “Call me naive but I don’t think the Cup champs are playing around with this. The league is watching.”

The league also watched Tom Wilson sucker punch a prone player and then bodyslam another but only so it fit to fine him $5000. Just saying.