Kenan Thompson has unusual hockey roots for a famous NHL fan. Before he was an Emmy Award-winning comedian on “Saturday Night Live,” he was a Mighty Duck.
Presenting the NHL Awards for the second time Tuesday night at 7 ET in Tampa, Florida, Thompson played Russ Tyler in “D2: The Mighty Ducks” (1994) and “D3: The Mighty Ducks” (1996). . Have you ever heard of the “knuckle puck”? The shot where “it’s hard to hit but drives goalkeepers crazy”?
Yes, that was Kenan Thompson.
We spoke with Thompson last week about reintroducing the NHL Awards, poking fun at the Tampa Bay Lightning, their New York Rangers and sidney crosby fandom, the legacy of “Mighty Ducks” and the greatest hockey moment in “SNL” history.
The NHL Awards will air on ESPN, and Thompson will bring this killer out kevin week Print:
Kenan Thompson impersonates NHL analyst Kevin Weekes in a new sketch from the conference ahead of the NHL awards show, airing Tuesday on ESPN at 7 pm ET.
ESPN: What makes Kenan Thompson a good choice for the NHL Awards?
Thompson: I’m a big fan of the NHL, man. I have been since my Mighty Ducks days, basically. Having a relationship where I can really contribute to the league is a beautiful thing. I want to give back in more ways than just shaking the JumboTron. It’s good to have an active involvement in the community because it’s such a beautiful community.
ESPN: Your prank during the 2019 NHL Awards about the Tampa Bay Lightning remains legendary: about how their embarrassing sweep loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets tied an NHL record for fewest wins. What’s it like for a comedian to grill the players that are sitting there?
Thompson: I don’t necessarily know about the players, but I definitely heard some reactions from the fans: “How dare you insult us blah blah blah?” It wasn’t a bit. Just present facts. That is all. [Laughs] But it seems like it was a big motivating factor. These guys have been on a tear ever since.
ESPN: You should take credit for these back-to-back Cups.
Thompson: Since that joke was made, they are undefeated in [every playoff series]. That’s the biggest change I’ve ever seen.
ESPN: Did you become a New York Rangers fan by living in New York and doing “SNL” there?
Thompson: Yes, just by going to the Garden. I love Madison Square Garden, man. So by default I became a Knicks fan. I started going to Rangers games and rooting for them when they weren’t playing my Atlanta or Tampa teams. That series Rangers vs. Lightning was a real tug of war, man. I have love for Lightning. Absolutely.
ESPN: You’re part of a very specific NHL tradition: Celebrities in the crowd appearing on the JumboTron at Rangers home games. They play a clip from “SNL”, then show it to you and the fans applaud. But some celebrities, like Jimmy Fallon, have prepared snippets when they know they’re going to show up. Have you ever done a bit in the game?
Thompson: Is incredible. It is a great honor to be recognized like this. Being thrown up in front of everyone and getting the fans to react…it’s like New York patting you on the back like you’re patting the New York teams. It’s a very, very cool thing.
Lea DeLaria, who played Big Boo in “Orange Is The New Black,” had a moment where she drank her drink when she was put on the JumboTron. So I went after her and drank my drink too and everyone went crazy. Same vibe. Strong party.
ESPN: In the past, you said you were a alex ovechkin Type. Do you have other players you like in the NHL?
Thompson: It may be blasphemous to say this, but I respect Sidney Crosby for his talent. I met Sidney at the original NHL awards and he was great. Every time you do a little bit with audience members, it might get a little off track. But he was a willing participant. He let me, like, jump on his shoulders a little bit. He is just a good guy. It is unfortunate that he is in a rival city for the Rangers, but he is a good boy.
You have to respect talent. I think every time David Ortiz comes to town, he gets a standing ovation at Yankee Stadium because they respect what he did. Like, we got it. He played for the Red Sox and gave us a hard time for years. But talent is talent and dedication is dedication. I think cities respect that.
Connor McDavid he’s crazy Nathan Mackinnon he’s crazy TJ Oshie? I love that guy. Subban PK He’s a friend of mine, so I have to shout him out. The Rangers team was really solid this year. I have to give it to him Igor Shesterkin, putting on such big shoes. I can’t let go of my Lightning either. Steven Stammos Y Nikita Kucherov they are solid. alex killorn has been working for years. Being from Atlanta, I can be a fan of great players.
ESPN: Have you ever had any weird interactions with a Mighty Ducks fan?
Thompson: [Laughs] Weird? No. It’s always been a super silly love. Hockey fans can get a little rowdy after the game and stuff, but they just want to shout “The Mighty Ducks” and tell me how much they meant to them, how it kept them motivated in their hockey ways. It has always been a lot of love.
ESPN: There’s a whole generation of fans who got into hockey through “The Mighty Ducks” or by playing hockey video games. You probably made new fans.
Thompson: Yes, the SEGA of all this is incredible. I remember when they were playing that game on Swingers. Just to see that footage, where is everything [pixelated] but you could still crack someone’s head open, it was amazing. What was it.
ESPN: The best hockey moment related to “SNL”: Parody of the Elvis movie “Waikiki Hockey” by Wayne Gretzky either Chance The Rapper’s “Let’s Do That Hockey?”
Thompson: [Laughs] Phew. I would have to go with Chance. Gretzky is the GOAT and all, but that Chance shit was so spot on. It was incredible. When he reads Brady Skjei’s name and says “That’s a no.”
ESPN: Let’s say Kenan Thompson is “NHL commissioner for a day.” You can change anything about hockey. What do you change?
Thompson: What would you change… what would you change? I don’t know. It feels like it’s heading in such a positive direction. How about paying players more? That is always a good answer. These guys are out there really trying hard. Give these guys what they need to survive and their families. It takes a great support system for those guys to get to that level. So something that gives back to communities is always welcome. The NHL is already doing it, so if they did more it could only be better.
ESPN: “NHL Awards Host Kenan Thompson: Abolish Salary Cap”.
Thompson: [Laughs] There is. That’s a good headline. They’re going to be very upset about that.