2022 Stanley Cup Final – Talking Hockey, ‘Tough Ducks’ & More with SNL’s Kenan Thompson

Kenan Thompson has unusual hockey roots for the famous NHL fan. Before he was an Emmy-winning stand-up comedian on “Saturday Night Live,” he was Mighty Duck.

Thompson, who is hosting the NHL Awards for the second time Tuesday night at 7 ET in Tampa, Florida, played Ross Tyler in “D2: The Mighty Ducks” (1994) and “D3: The Mighty Ducks” (1996). Ever hear about the “knuckle puck,” The shot that “is hard to be accurate but drives goalkeepers crazy”?

Yeah, that was Kenan Thompson.

We spoke with Thompson last week about returning to host the NHL Awards, the fiasco at the Tampa Bay Lightning, the New York Rangers and… Sidney Crosby fandom, the legacy of “Mighty Ducks” and the best hockey moment in “SNL” history.

The NHL Awards Will Stream On ESPN, Thompson Will Break This Killer Kevin Weekes impression:

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Kenan Thompson is impersonating NHL analyst Kevin Weekes in a new conference plot ahead of the NHL Awards Show, which airs Tuesday on ESPN at 7 p.m. ET.

ESPN: What makes Kenan Thompson a good fit for the NHL Awards?

Thomson: I’m a huge fan of the NHL, man. I’ve been since the great duck days, basically. Having a relationship where I can really contribute to the league is beautiful. I want to return the favor with more than just waving at the JumboTron. It is good to have an active participation in the community because it is a beautiful community.

ESPN: Your joke during the 2019 NHL Awards About the Tampa Bay Lightning Still Legendary: On how their embarrassing sweeping loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets equaled an NHL record for the fewest wins. How does the comedian feel about roasting the players sitting there?

Thomson: I don’t necessarily know about the players, but I certainly heard some reactions from the fans – “How dare you turn us down, blah blah blah.” Not a little. Just stating the facts. That’s it. [Laughs] But it appears to have been a huge motivating factor. These guys have been tearing up ever since.

ESPN: You should get credit for these consecutive trophies.

Thomson: Since you made that joke, they haven’t been defeated in it [every playoff series]. This is the biggest transformation I’ve seen in my life.

ESPN: Did you become a fan of the New York Rangers by living in New York and doing ‘SNL’ there?

Thomson: Yes, just by going to the park. I love Madison Square Garden, man. So I became a Knicks fan by default. I started going to Rangers games and rooting for them when they weren’t playing for either Atlanta or Tampa. That Rangers vs Lightning series was a tug-of-war, man. I have a love of lightning. definitely.

ESPN: You’re part of a very specific NHL tradition: the celebrities in the crowd who appear in JumboTron at Rangers’ home games. They play a clip from “SNL,” then show you and fans cheer. But some celebrities, like Jimmy Fallon, have prepared small parts when they know they’re going to show up. Have you ever done little in the game?

Thomson: It’s incredible. It is an honor to be recognized as such. Being thrown in front of everyone and making the fans react to it… It’s as if New York patted you on the back and you patted the backs of New York teams. It’s a very cool thing.

Lea DeLaria, who played Big Boo on “Orange Is The New Black,” did a bit of a sip on her drink when they put her on a JumboTron. So I went right after that and had my drink too and everyone went crazy. The same atmosphere. Tough party.

ESPN: In the past, you said you Alex Ovechkin guy. Do you have other NHL players you love?

Thomson: It might be blasphemy to say this, but I respect Sidney Crosby for his talent. I met Sidney at the original NHL Awards and it was amazing. Anytime you do a little with members of the audience, you can deviate a little. But he was a willing participant. He let me, like, jump on his shoulders a little bit. He is just a good guy. It’s a pity he’s in a rival city for Rangers, but he’s a good kid.

You have to respect talent. I think when David Ortiz comes into town he gets a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium because they respect what he’s done. Like, we get it. He’s played for the Red Sox and we’ve had tough times for years. But talent is talent and dedication is dedication. I think cities respect that.

Conor MacDavid he’s crazy. Nathan McKinnon he’s crazy. TJ O’Shea? I love this man. BK Suban He’s my friend, so I have to yell at him. Rangers have been really solid this year. I have to give it to Igor Shesterkin, getting into such big shoes. I can’t let go of my lightning, either. Stephen Stamkos And the Nikita Kucherov solid. Alex Killorn Been putting in the work for years. Being from Atlanta, I can only be a fan of the great guys.

ESPN: Have you had any weird interactions with a Mighty Ducks fan?

Thomson: [Laughs] a stranger? No, it has always been a deceptive love. Hockey fans can get a little rowdy after the game and stuff, but they just want to scream “The Mighty Ducks” and tell me how much they meant to them, and how it kept them motivated at the hockey tracks. It was always so much love.

ESPNThere is an entire generation of fans who have been involved in hockey either through “The Mighty Ducks” or playing video hockey games. You may have made new fans

Thomson: Yes, SEGA is all pretty amazing. I remember when they were playing that game in “Swingers”. Just to watch that footage, where’s it all [pixelated] But you can still open someone’s head who was amazing. What an era.

ESPN: The greatest hockey moment associated with ‘SNL’: Wayne Gretsky’s “Waikiki Hockey” is a parody of the Elvis movie or Chance Rapper “Let’s Do That Hockey?”

Thomson: [Laughs] Oof. I should go with a chance. Gretsky is the goat and everything, but this opportunity was very important. It was incredible. When he read Brady Skagi’s name and said “that’s nothing”.

ESPN: Let’s say Kenan Thompson is the “one-day NHL commissioner.” You can change anything about hockey. What changed?

Thomson: What can I change… What can I change? I don’t know. It seems to be going in such a positive direction. How about paying more players? This is always a good answer. These guys out there are doing their best. Give these men what they need to survive and their families. It takes a huge support system to get these guys to reach that level. So we always welcome some giving back to the communities. The NHL is already doing that, so if they do more, it will be better.

ESPN: “NHL Awards host Kenan Thompson: Remove salary cap.”

Thomson: [Laughs] that is it. This is a good title. They will be very angry about it.

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