There’s nothing like reminiscing about the first time you stepped foot out of your parent’s home and didn’t look back, trying your best to make it in the world. Well, Tampa Bay Lightning prospects Tanner Richard and Nikita Kucherov might just bring you for a stroll down memory lane.
The two recently moved in together in downtown Montreal for the summer, both new to their surroundings and both new to each other.
What’s resulted since hasn’t been just the typical routine of two-a-days at the gym and offseason training, but a set of random occurrences, that serves as a reminder that these are simply two young guys trying to make it in the real world too.
“Nikita and I had planned on moving to Montreal since April,” said Richard. “We both planned to train with [the Lightning’s strength and conditioning coach] Mark Lambert. [Lightning GM] Steve Yzerman talked about us living together to make things easier because of the fact that we didn’t know anyone.”
The duo didn’t really know each other, either.
Despite playing against each other internationally (Russia vs. Switzerland) for three years and meeting for the first time last year at the Lightning’s development camp and again at World Juniors, that was about all the interaction Richard and Kucherov had. One of Richard’s best friend’s from Switzerland, Sven Adrighetto, also roomed with Kucherov in Rouyn-Nouranda as teammates, so Richard knew of Kucherov from that as well.
With only these few encounters, a lot of what to come next was relatively a mystery, including their first meeting in Montreal.
Tanner Richard, Dylan Blujus, and Nikita Kucherov in Montreal (Photo via Twitter)
“Nikita came and picked me up from the airport,” said Richard. “The first thing we actually did was clean the apartment for three and a half hours until 2 a.m.”
According to Richard the apartment wasn’t the only thing they were cleaning as pictures surfaced on their Twitter accounts of Richard, Kucherov and fellow Lightning prospect Dylan Blujus wandering the streets of Montreal, laundry baskets in hand, in search of the nearest Laundromat.
Blujus was a late and temporary addition to the Richard-Kucherov household, but taught the two some important life skills during his stay before leaving the two for Lake Placid to attend USA’s National Junior Evaluation Camp at the beginning of August.
“Since Dylan came here, he actually taught us how to cook, since neither of us really knew how,” said Richard. “I burnt my first steak the other day and Kucherov tried to cook fish. We’re still alive, so it wasn’t poison, but it definitely wasn’t the best. I think we’ll both get better at the cooking part.”
Richard has also helped Kucherov learn English since becoming roommates and said he, “actually didn’t know how much English Kucherov actually spoke until they started living together.
“There’s those few words where you still have to play charades a bit with what you’re trying to say, so that’s pretty fun,” continued Richard. “He actually wants me to teach him as much English as possible. We just sit on the couch and he asks me to teach him random words and he’ll write them all down. He’s got his own vocabulary book.”
Besides cooking, cleaning and tutoring, the Bolts prospects have spared enough time for the occasional “sushi date” as well as exploring the local attractions including the movie theater, which Richard pointed out “thankfully has movies in English and not in French,” and something they both share a passion for, shopping.
Their apartment, nestled near McGill University, also allows them to experience true downtown Montreal, which has a lot to offer during the summertime in terms of festivals and helps the two blend in like normal university students, except they just don’t go to school.
With the days of summer beginning to dwindle down though, Richard and Kucherov, who are soon bound for training camp in September, will see their routine transform into the typical day-to-day life of a hockey player, but living in Montreal has given them a head start of what’s to come.
“During the season you get with the whole team and spend ten months with each other,” he said. “Nikita and I are just getting a two month head start. We get along really well and help each other out, so I think that can only contribute on the ice as well.”
Only time will tell the story of how their situation as roommates translates on the ice, but one thing that is for certain is that they’ll continue to watch their friendship grow beyond Montreal, as they face the next feat in their lives, trying to break into the professional ranks.