Kenan Thompson said he’s looking forward to hosting the 2022 NHL Awards on Tuesday, three years after hosting the last live edition of the event before the coronavirus pandemic.
The Emmy Award-winning actor and comedian will be front and center at Armature Works in Tampa (7 pm ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS) to recognize the best players in the NHL during the hour-long show.
“Hopefully everyone enjoys it,” Thompson said. “We’ll keep it light and heartwarming. It’s not about me, it’s about them and other people in the community who are cheering, whether it’s helping with diversity or just giving back in general or being a good example of what a good citizen is.” of the NHL.” should be. That’s what the night is about.
Thompson said he will draw on some of his experience from 2019, when he hosted the event in Las Vegas.
“It was amazing,” he said. “No. 1, we were in Vegas so that’s always fun and it was a big giant room and the [Vegas Golden] gentlemen had just [reached the Stanley Cup Final] the year before, so it was a blast for the hockey community in Nevada, which is fairly new. It was nice to see that. And we had fun, we got to see the players off their pads and see them as human beings. It was really cool.”
Though NHL superstars and celebrities will be in attendance, Thompson said he’s looking forward to meeting and hearing stories from the awards’ presenters.
Presenters include Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici, who behind glass discovered a cancerous mole on the neck of Vancouver Canucks assistant team manager Red Hamilton; Calgary Flames Assistant General Manager and ALS survivor Chris Snow; Milton Academy (Massachusetts) player Jake Thibeault, who was paralyzed by injury in September 2021; and emergency backup goaltender Thomas Hodges, who overcame blindness in one eye to play in a game for the Anaheim Ducks this season.
“I think that’s what excites me the most,” Thompson said. “Amplify those voices that need to be heard for what they’re doing in the world. That’s going to make everybody feel better. Players, of course, commit a lot and sacrifice a lot, but it’s also nice to give John Q Everyman or Everywoman, the people who are the support network around the League. I think that’s just as important”.
Five prizes will be awarded during the show; the Hart Trophy (NHL Most Valuable Player), the Vezina Trophy (Best Goaltender), the Norris Trophy (Best Defenseman), the Calder Trophy (Rookie of the Year), and the Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player as voted by the NHL Association). NHL players).
Winners of the nine previously announced NHL awards will also be recognized during the show, as will Noel Acton, winner of the 2022 Willie O’Ree Community Hero Award presented by MassMutual, and Lane Hutson, winner of the EJ McGuire Award of Excellence, awarded to the draft prospect who best exemplifies a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.
The three finalists for Jim Gregory’s General Manager of the Year award will also be announced during the show.
Thompson, who grew up in Georgia, said he wasn’t a hockey fan until high school when he landed a role in “D2: The Mighty Ducks.”
“It was totally because of that movie,” Thompson said. “I didn’t even know how to skate before that. Hockey wasn’t a big deal when I was a kid; we basically watched football or basketball or baseball. But turning 15 on the first day of hockey camp was like something that was so concrete that I couldn’t tear myself away from it. him and then I learned to skate and play and then the movies turned out to be such a classic chapter of American hockey history too, so I was happy.”
Thompson, the longest-tenured cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” recently completed its 19th season. He still found time to watch hockey games and even attend some New York Rangers playoff games.
“When the Garden swings, everyone is happy,” he said. “It’s a very intimate place…it’s a very electric vibe, it’s really cool.”
Thompson learned about the watch party at Madison Square Garden for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, when the Rangers were on the road, and said it helps enhance the viewing experience. the fans. The Colorado Avalanche were on the road for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, but they held a party at Ball Arena.
“I’m really glad sports are embracing the whole clock/tailgate party thing in the finals and playoffs for cities when the team goes out of town,” he said. “I’m so surprised it’s taken this long, but for the last 5 to 10 years, that watch party thing has been the way to go. That’s how you keep people supporting the economy around sports and in your city and just going out and having a good time and keeping that vibe. It’s a good thing.”
With the Avalanche holding a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series heading into Game 4 on Wednesday, who does Thompson think will lift the Cup?
“The Avalanche, those guys are scorers and they’ve continued to prove that,” he said before the Lightning’s 6-2 win on Monday. “And Tampa has to look and figure out how they can lift theirs, but they’ll figure it out because they’ve been fighting all this time to get to this point. Hopefully, it goes really deep and it’s a good dramatic ending. . Put it all on ice.”
Expect an exciting finale to the exciting Stanley Cup Playoffs.
“Incredible this year. So much skill and talent on display,” Thompson said. “I feel like there’s been at least one Game 6 in every round. The finals is when all the talent and speed really come out so you can see who’s really big, who’s really fast and who’s got skills.”