Kenan Thompson said he is looking forward to hosting the 2022 NHL Awards on Tuesday, three years after it hosted 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 p.m. ET; ESPN, SN, TVAS) to learn about the best players in the NHL during the one-hour show.
“I hope everyone enjoys it,” Thompson said. “We’ll keep it light and mobile. It’s not about me, it’s about them and other people in the community who are raising them, whether it’s helping with diversity and just giving back in general or being a great example of what a good NHL citizen should be. That’s what night is all about.”
Thompson said he would draw on some of his experience from 2019, when he hosted the event in Las Vegas.
“It was wonderful,” he said. “No 1, we were in Vegas so it was always fun and it was a big giant room and it was [Vegas Golden] The knights were just [reached the Stanley Cup Final] The year before that had been an explosion for the hockey community in Nevada which is something entirely new. It was nice to see that. And we enjoyed seeing the players off their platforms and seeing them as human beings. It was really cold.”
Although there will be NHL stars and celebrities in attendance, Thompson said he is very much looking forward to meeting and hearing the stories of the award presenters.
Among the presenters is Seattle Kraken fan Nadia Popovici, who discovered from behind the glass a cancerous mole on the neck of Vancouver Canucks assistant equipment manager, Reed Hamilton. Calgary Flames, Assistant General Manager and ALS survivor Chris Snow; Milton Academy (Mass) player Jake Thibault, who was paralyzed in September 2021; and emergency reserve goalkeeper Thomas Hodges, who overcame blindness in one eye to play in a game for the Anaheim Ducks this season.
“I think that’s what pleases me the most,” Thompson said. “Amplify those voices that need to be heard for what they’re doing in the world. This will make everyone feel their best. Of course the players commit a lot and sacrifice a lot, but it’s also good to give John Q Everyman or Everywoman, the people who are the supportive network around the league. I think This is just as important.”
Five prizes will be presented during the show; Hart Trophy (NHL Player of the Year), Vezina Cup (Best Goalkeeper), Norris Trophy (Best Defense), Calder Trophy (Player of the Year) and Ted Lindsay Award (Most Outstanding Player voted by the NHL Players Association).
The winners of nine previously announced NHL awards will also be honored during the show, as will Noel Acton, winner of the 2022 Willie O’Ree Community Hero presented by MassMutual, and Lynne Hutson, winner of the EJ McGuire Award for Excellence, awarded to the project that represents the best An example of a commitment to excellence through strength of character, competitiveness and athleticism.
The three nominees for the Jim Gregory General Manager of the Year Award will also be announced during the show.
Thompson, who grew up in Georgia, said he wasn’t a fan of hockey until high school when he landed a role in “D2: The Mighty Ducks.”
“It was totally because of this movie,” Thompson said. “I didn’t even know how to ice skate before that. Hockey wasn’t a big thing when I was a kid; we would basically watch soccer or basketball or baseball. But my 15th birthday on the first day of hockey camp was just like the thing that was So tangible I couldn’t get away from it and then I actually learned how to skate and play and then the movies turned into a classic chapter of American hockey history too so I was happy.”
The longest-running cast member on “Saturday Night Live,” Thompson recently completed his 19th season. He still finds time to watch hockey games and even attend some New York Rangers playoff games.
“When the garden rocks, everyone is happy,” he said. “It’s a very intimate place…it’s a very exciting atmosphere, it’s really cool.”
Thompson heard about the Madison Square Garden viewing party for Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning, when the Rangers were on the road, and said it helps enhance the fan experience. The Colorado Avalanche were on their way to game three of the Stanley Cup Final on Monday, but had a viewing party at the Ball Arena.
“I’m so happy that the sport is kind of embracing the whole watch party / tailgate in the final and the city playoffs when the team is out of town,” he said. “I am very surprised that it took so long, but in the last five to ten years this binge-watching party has been the best way. This is how you get people to support the economy in terms of sports and around your city and go out and have a good time and keep that vibe. It’s a good thing. “
With Avalanche leading 2-1 in the Best of 7 series heading into Game 4 on Wednesday, who does Thompson think will lift the trophy?
“Avalanche, these guys are the scorers and they keep showing that,” he said before Lightning’s 6-2 win on Monday. “And Tampa has to hold yourself back and figure out how they can get what they have, but they are going to find out because they have been struggling all this time to get to this point. I hope it goes a lot deeper and has a nice dramatic ending. Leave it all on ice.”
He’s hoping for an exciting end to the Stanley Cup playoff.
“This year is amazing,” said Thompson. “There is so much skill and talent on display.” “I feel like there were at least 6 games in each round. The final is when all the talent and speed are really on display so you can see who’s really big, who’s really fast, who’s got the skills.”