By Anthony Raymond
Last night in the NHL bubble of Edmonton, the Tampa Bay Lightning captured their second Stanley Cup after defeating the Dallas Stars 2-0 in Game 6.
In the beginning of Game 6, Tampa forward Brayden Point opened the scoring with a power-play goal after collecting a rebound from his initial shot from the top of the left circle. In the second period, Pat Maroon knocked down a pass intended for Stars defensemen John Klingberg which led to a three-on-two rush for Tampa and an eventual insurance goal to seal the win.
This year’s Stanley Cup for the Lightning comes after last year’s shocking first round exit when the team finished the regular season tying the 95-96 Detroit Red Wings with 62 wins. Tampa Bay’s star defensemen and Norris Trophy finalist, Victor Hedman took home the Conn Smythe trophy as playoff MVP. Hedman finished the post-season with 10 goals, which is the third most for a defensemen in a single post-season only trailing Hall of Famers’ Paul Coffey and Brian Leetch. Lightning head coach and former Lansing lawyer Jon Cooper was all smiles as he has now become a champion in every league he has coached in.
The road to this year’s Stanley Cup was like no other. Because of COVID-19, the NHL season was suspended indefinitely March 12. After months of speculation and uncertainty, the NHL resumed play Aug. 1 with a never before seen playoff format and playing arrangements. This year’s playoffs included a 24-team format, with teams in the Eastern conference living together and playing in Toronto, while the teams in the Western conference were living together and playing in Edmonton. In the end, Dallas and Tampa Bay lived in a hotel for nine weeks to compete for what they always dreamed of winning as a kid.
After Maroon won his second Stanley Cup in a row and became the third player in the expansion-era to win it back-to back with different teams, NBCSN hockey analyst Pierre McGurie asked him, “How hard was this to go through Patrick?”
“It was very hard,” Maroon said. “Obviously being away from your kids, your wife, family, whatever that may be and you know sitting in your hotel room there are some dark days.”
With the season ending at the time when the regular season is normally preparing to begin, the COVID speculation is already in full force. The rumoured start day for training camp is Nov. 17 and opening night slated for Dec. 1 according to Sportsnet’s Elliote Friedman. However, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman says there are still many uncertainties such as the US-Candian border situation which could result in a season start in the middle of Dec. or into Jan. Like most aspects in life during the times of COVID, hockey fans can only cross their fingers and hope for the best.