TAMPA, FLA. – Turns out the Stanley Cup is going to Montreal after all.
But he will return to the Tampa Bay Lightning for a long celebration.
After the Lightning celebrated a second straight championship with another Champa Bay boat parade on Monday, hockey’s holy grail had to be sent north of the border for repairs. The trophy bowl was dented to the point of resembling a flat Stanley Cup.
It’s been damaged and repaired before, including when the 2018 Washington Capitals champion made the “Cup” after winning the first NHL tile in franchise history.
“He’s been dented and banged and groped forever. That’s what makes it, in my opinion, the most famous trophy in sport, ”NHL.com columnist Dave Stubbs said in an email to CTV News.
The Cup is still scheduled for the start of the Stanley Lightning’s summer which players haven’t been able to enjoy after winning last fall.
“What we hope is to have two days with the Cup: two days in a row,” three-row champion Patrick Maroon said last week.
The second Lightning Boat Parade in 10 months matched that desire for more celebration. Captain Steven Stamkos wore a ‘BACK TO BOAT’ t-shirt, and back-to-back champions were toasted with a parade of boats down the Hillsborough River, with thousands of fans no longer burdened by the COVID-restrictions. 19 gathering downtown to join the fun.
The scene – five days after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup final in five games against the Montreal Canadiens – hardly resembled the riverside rally staged after the team won the title of the year last playing in empty arenas because of the pandemic.
Dozens of residents aboard boats and other watercraft were able to observe ships carrying players and coaches up close. A post-parade rally in a downtown park was delayed by more than an hour when a severe thunderstorm accompanied by gusty winds sent fans to disperse for safety.
Eventually, Lightning owner Jeff Vinik and the players stepped onto the podium to address the crowd in the steady rain.
At one point, forward Yanni Gourde slipped onto the stage on a cart as other players and coach Jon Cooper descended to interact with fans along the barricades.
Forwards Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov took to the water, skirting the boats and cruising along the river on a jet ski.
Tampa Bay Lightning left winger Alex Killorn and right winger Nikita Kucherov, back, wear the Stanley Cup on a personal watercraft during the NHL Stanley Cup Champions Boat Parade on Monday, July 12 2021, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo / Phelan M. Ebenhack)
Playoff MVP Andrei Vasilevskiy placed the Conn Smythe Trophy on his head, to the delight of spectators drenched in rain and champagne sprayed by the players.
This is the third time in 10 months that the Tampa Bay area has celebrated a professional sports title with a unique parade concept that Tampa officials have developed to provide the NFL Lightning and Tampa Bay Buccaneers with a way to make it happen. party safe with fans during the pandemic.
The Bucs were honored five months ago after winning the Super Bowl for the first time in 18 years, with thousands of people lined up along the downtown river while being encouraged to wear masks and observe social distancing practices.
The February celebration capped off a magical playoff series, the Bucs led by Tom Brady started off winning three straight playoff games on the road before ending the trip becoming the first team to win a Super Bowl played at their stadium.
Brady also provided the most memorable moment of the parade, shockingly tossing the Lombardi Trophy from boat to boat where tight end Cameron Brate grabbed it for the most famous reception of his career.
The Lombardi Trophy weighs seven pounds, while the Stanley Cup weighs 34 1/2 pounds and is now on hand with a senior trophy injury.
– This report by The Canadian Press was first published on July 13, 2021. AP Hockey writer Stephen Whyno and Matt Gilmour of CTV News Montreal contributed to this report.