ESPN's John Buccigross couldn't help but call out the effort of Nikita Kucherov after the fans in Toronto booed the Lightning star during the NHL Skills event. Photo Credit: ESPN John Buccigross and Mark Messier call the NHL Skills event on Feb. 2. Photo Credit: ESPN

Some of the world’s greatest hockey players were at Toronto’s Scotiabank Arena on Friday partaking in the NHL All-Star Skills event, ahead of Saturday’s All-Star Game. The fans in Toronto didn’t seem to like the effort of one player, a sentiment that ESPN’s John Buccigross shared.

Tampa Bay Lightning star Nikita Kucherov took the ice for the passing challenge. It was fairly clear early on that he wasn’t particularly enthused to be there.

That earned him boos from the Toronto fans and criticism from Buccigross.

What’s particularly interesting here is that as Kucherov began the competition, Buccigross and his broadcast partner, NHL legend Mark Messier, were detailing the hard work Kucherov put in during the offseason, after the Lightning were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoff in the first round to the Toronto Maple Leafs, failing to reach the final for the first time since 2019.

“Last year, his season ends and they lose to the Maple Leafs. He took about a week off. Rented a rink in Tampa and was on the ice every day, practicing,” Buccigross said.

“Yeah, and it’s shown this year,” Messier added. “He really kind of got a good opportunity to rest because they didn’t go deep into the playoffs.”

At that point, Buccigross couldn’t help but interject.

“I’m not sensing a lot of intensity here, Mess,” he said.

“Not quite enough intensity whatsoever here,” an agreeing and chuckling Messier said. “But I love the way he plays the game.”

At this point, Kucherov was nearly done. With the fans audibly booing his effort, Buccigross couldn’t help but state the obvious.

“This is not a good look, quite frankly,” he said. “And the fans are booing him. And that’s what happens when you don’t try your best and you’re in a hockey city like Toronto.”

[Photo Credit: ESPN]

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