Tampa takes it home
By Brandon Yip, Senior Columnist
Your 2020 NHL Stanley Cup Champions are the Tampa Bay Lightning.
This has been a strange playoff year like no other due to the pandemic. And the final was not a sexy matchup with Dallas and Tampa Bay contending for the Stanley Cup. The apathy and boredom was further accentuated with the two teams playing for the championship in a neutral site with no fans in the stands. Yes, there was the usual in-game atmosphere with a scoreboard along with fancy graphics and music played—and a PA announcer announcing goals, penalties, promos, etc. But it was devoid of any excitement and atmosphere due to no fans inside Rogers Place. The Stanley Cup celebration might as well have been held inside a library.
However, it should be noted that this Stanley Cup Final was been historic for several reasons. Firstly, this is the first cup final to be played entirely in one location for the first time since 1928. Secondly, this is the first cup final to be played in Canada since 1989. Thirdly, this is the first championship final to include a neutral site game since 1950. Fourthly, it is the first time that two teams meeting in the final are from the American Sun Belt (Florida and Texas). Finally, due to COVID-19, this is the first Stanley Cup Final ever to be played in September.
Overall, the hockey was good. Players were competing hard, though it must have been tough for them to be stuck in a hub city (and away from their families), and only be allowed to go to the rink and then back to their hotel rooms. The cycle repeating itself probably felt like a washing machine.
Notably, there were no positive tests for COVID-19 during the reformed two-month NHL playoff tournament held in the hub cities, Edmonton and Toronto. NHL Commissioner, Gary Bettman, stated over 31,000 COVID-19 tests was administered with no positive results. “There are no victory laps,” Bettman said at his annual press conference before the start of the Stanley Cup Final. “We want to get through the Stanley Cup Final in as good a shape as we’ve been able to do to date, and that’s not something we take for granted.” Luckily, for Bettman, due to the pandemic, this was first time he’s presented the Stanley Cup inside an arena without being booed!
Remarkably, game one of the Stanley Cup Final on September 19 was the 70th game played in Edmonton (Rogers Place) since the 24-team tournament began on August 1. Meanwhile, there were 55 games played in Toronto before Edmonton hosted the conference finals and championship final.
Locally, Vancouver Canuck news, rumours have been circulating that Canuck forward Brock Boeser is on the trading block. The speculation is that Boeser will be traded to the Minnesota Wild in exchange for defenceman Matt Dumba. Boeser spoke with the media on September 17 and denied the rumours—stating that he wants to be a Canuck. He also said he hopes to stay with the team because he feels that they are close to winning a Stanley Cup. “I think our team is right there and we can win a Stanley Cup in the next couple of years,” Boeser said in a video conference with the media. “I truly believe that. And I think our coaching staff and our teammates believe that as well. I want to be a Canuck, and I want to stay in Vancouver.”
The NHL proved that despite a global pandemic, professional sports can be played safely and effectively when strict health protocols are implemented and followed correctly. The NBA, NFL, and MLB have been successful in continuing with their seasons, and the MLS has also restarted their season. Professional sports will likely continue to be played in restricted bubbles with limited or no fans in the stands for the foreseeable future.