Abin Boris, Sports Editor
After two months inside the bubble in Canada, The National Hockey League crowned a champion this week.
After an embarrassing playoff run last year being swept by the Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Tampa Bay Lightning have redeemed themselves and won the Stanley Cup.
The Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars on Monday by a score of 2-0 to take the series in six games.
This is Tampa’s first Stanley Cup win since the 2003-2004 season when they won against the Calgary Flames in seven games.
The road was filled with hurdles for the team as they were forced to face some serious adversity dating all the way back when they first drafted their star player Steven Stamkos in 2008. Since then the team has built around Stamkos with players like Victor Hedman (Second pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft and Stanley Cup MVP,) Nikita Kucherov (2011fifty-seventh overall pick,) and Brayden Point (2014 seventy-ninth overall pick).
With these drafted stars the team did not stop there to build what is a star-studded lineup. The Lightning went out and traded for Ryan Mcdonough and Kevin Shattenkirk; both coming from the New York Rangers.
Tampa also acquired Zach Bogosian before the season was postponed due to the pandemic.
Senior Rob Stevens is a Lightning fan and he was pleased to see his team get back to the top after years of playoff disappointment.
“It was honestly such an amazing feeling,” he said. “I’m so proud of this team and proud to be a fan of the Lightning.”
According to sources, the path to this was one of the most difficult in playoff history. A total of 24 teams started which is more than a regular playoff stint. Players, coaches and staff all had to put their home lives on pause as they were forced to enter what was called “the bubble.”
The bubble was the league’s plan to limit any COVID-19 cases while the playoffs were in session. The idea of the bubble is that the only people allowed in were actively participating teams. Everybody that entered the bubble were not able to leave until they either lost or won the tournament.
The NHL recently confirmed that there were no positive cases inside the bubble.
Unanswered questions loom for next season as the league maps out a plan to play safely soon. They do have the dates of important events set but with COVID still being very prominent, the league will have to come up with many different plans.
Adam Ziobrowski, Utica College graduate, thinks it might be a weird upcoming NHL season, especially after a two-month playoff run where all of these people were quarantined in a bubble.
“The bubble worked very well for the league,” he said. “I do wonder how they will attempt to make next season work because the bubble will not be an option I would think.”
At the moment, fans such as Stevens are now focused on the off-season with the NHL Entry Draft coming up.
“I already bought a banner to hang that says ‘2020 Champions,’” Stevens said. “Can’t wait to go back to back next year.”