Over the past 24 hours, one of the most talked about Russian players from Mikhail Sergachev somewhat unexpectedly became a member of the National Hockey League. All the Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman had to do was reduce the number of his social media accounts to appear on media feeds. Moreover, both North American and Russian.
What happened? Sergachev himself is a hockey player who has nothing against media activities. The Russian previously regularly shared news on his Telegram channel, but much more often communicated with his audience on Instagram (the activities of Meta (social networks Facebook and Instagram) are prohibited in Russia as extremist). Over time, Mikhail’s “cart” stopped updating, and the other day one of the Tampa leaders deactivated his profile on a well-known social network with photos and videos. The latest decision, according to North American media, has its reasons. Namely, numerous insults from fans.
If you read the comments on the page of Sergachev’s wife Elizaveta, many Lightning fans apologize for the behavior of their fellow soldiers. But, for example, on Twitter (now X), the number of comments criticizing Mikhail is in the dozens. Moreover, some users do not stand on ceremony in their statements and insults against Russians.
What are they related to? Definitely, with Sergachev’s results in the new season. During the first month from the start of the next NHL championship, the Lightning noticeably stalled and lost more often than they won. At the same time, the Lightning are one of the most conceding teams in the entire league. Yes, Tampa was hit hard by the forced absence of Andrei Vasilevskiy, but 61 goals allowed in 17 games is powerful. According to this indicator, the Lightning are not far from the worst NHL club of the season, the San Jose Sharks (72 conceded). According to fans, one of the main culprits for such “achievements” is Sergachev. They say he makes a lot of mistakes and plays very unreliably. This, by the way, is the problem of all Tampa’s defensive leaders: since the renewal of the club’s coaching staff (for example, the arrival of Jeff Blashill in 2022), Victor Hedman has also noticeably declined.
Fans also have complaints against Sergachev regarding his play in attack. In the first 16 matches, Mikhail recorded only eight assists. And in terms of utility indicator – “minus 14” – the Russian was by far the worst player on the team (and third from bottom in the entire league). And although the utility indicator is a dubious argument for global conclusions, other results are probably expected from a player with a cap hit of $8.5 million.
However, Mikhail Sergachev is already showing them. In the match against the Chicago Blackhawks, which was the first after that very news broadcast, the Russian Lightning defender acted almost as the main character of the meeting.
At first, Mikhail grabbed another portion of criticism. In the first period, the Russian hit Philip Kurashev and received a two-minute penalty for pushing a player onto the board. Even the leader of the 2023 NHL draft, Connor Bedard, was outraged by Sergachev’s actions – the young and short Blackhawks forward did not hesitate to rub shoulders with the large Lightning defender, but Mikhail ignored the claims of another next-upman. True, his removal cost the Lightning a missed goal, and American Tampa fans on social networks again began to insult their own player.
But later they had to “change their shoes.” Midway through the second period, Sergachev put the Lightning ahead by scoring his first goal of the season. He did it in the usual way: he fired powerfully from the blue line and left the Chicago goalkeeper out of work.
And at the very end of the meeting, when the Blackhawks released a sixth field player instead of the goalkeeper, he calmly made an interception and with a cool pass he brought Brandon Hagel to an empty net. All he had to do was move the puck over the line from a few meters away.
As a result, Tampa broke a losing streak of three games in a row, and Sergachev left the court with two points scored. This is what the correct reaction of a two-time Stanley Cup winner to criticism looks like.