Advertisement
  1. Sports
  2. /
  3. Lightning

How is life with the Stanley Cup different during COVID-19 times?

For the first time, players can spend their days with the Cup with their names already engraved on the iconic trophy.
The Lightning are the first NHL team to have players' names engraved on the Stanley Cup before they receive their day with the trophy. The Cup was sent to Montreal for engraving last month.
The Lightning are the first NHL team to have players' names engraved on the Stanley Cup before they receive their day with the trophy. The Cup was sent to Montreal for engraving last month. [ Tampa Bay Lightning ]
Published Nov. 14, 2020|Updated Nov. 15, 2020

TAMPA — The Lightning won the Stanley Cup in a playoff format like no other in NHL history, and their offseason with the Cup has been equally unprecedented.

While coronavirus restrictions have limited where the Cup can travel, the Lightning, the NHL and the Hockey Hall of Fame, which is the Cup’s home, seek to continue the 25-year tradition of giving each member of the winning team a day with the Cup.

Typically, the Cup makes its way around the world during the summer. This year there aren’t immediate plans for the Cup to travel out of Florida. The hope is that warm winter weather might lure some of those with out-of-town home bases back to Tampa Bay to celebrate their Cup days here.

Also, the Lightning don’t know how long they’ll have the Cup. They won it in Game 6 of the final Sept. 28. The tentative start date for next season is Jan. 1, but that could change.

It’s certainly a different routine for Cup keepers Phil Pritchard and Dave Bishop.

Since initially arriving in Tampa Bay, the Cup has been on boats, on beaches and in bars. Steven Stamkos and Ryan McDonagh shared it with patients at the Children’s Cancer Center in Tampa.

The Cup gets disinfected daily, but in the coronavirus era, it’s difficult to have social distancing around a trophy that always draws a crowd. Bishop said fans in Tampa Bay often recognize the Cup just from its case.

“Usually the events would be more free-flowing with a lot more people,” Bishop said. “We’re trying to keep the events more low-key. The NHL has really strict protocols, and we have to follow those. It just means you can’t do the same thing you could do normally, but we’re trying to make it as fun for everyone as normal as possible.”

The keepers of the Stanley Cup, Phil Pritchard, left, and Dave Bishop, pose with the Trophy at a Lightning fan event last week.
The keepers of the Stanley Cup, Phil Pritchard, left, and Dave Bishop, pose with the Trophy at a Lightning fan event last week. [ EDUARDO A. ENCINA | Tampa Bay Times ]

While waiting to see how the Lightning could spend their offseason with the Cup, the trophy was sent to Montreal for engraving of their names. Traditionally, the Cup is engraved close to when the season starts. Now the Lightning are the first team to have their days with the Cup with their names already on it.

“We’ve been thinking outside of the box,” said Pritchard, also the curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto. "How can we make some positives in a nontraditional, kind of negative time in the world, and this one of them was. Let’s get the Cup engraved so when we do have that opportunity, the guys can celebrate it. So it’s a huge positive, I think, and everyone (agreed) with it.

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Follow all the action on and off the ice

Subscribe to our free Lightning Strikes newsletter

We’ll send you news, analysis and commentary on the Bolts weekly during the season.

You’re all signed up!

Want more of our free, weekly newsletters in your inbox? Let’s get started.

Explore all your options

“It also gave us time during that two-week period (for the engraving) to maybe figure some things out or maybe (the pandemic) changes a bit. Unfortunately, (the pandemic) kind of went the other way, actually, but it is a positive that … people get to see their name on it.”

Even the process of getting the Cup engraved wasn’t traditional. It couldn’t be flown directly to the engraver in Montreal from the United States because of travel restrictions to Quebec. Pritchard had to fly to Toronto, and VIA Rail, Canada’s version of Amtrak, commissioned a car to carry the Cup in isolation and take it to Montreal.

Phil Pritchard, a keeper of the Stanley Cup and the curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, organized items for an upcoming exhibit on the Lightning's Stanley Cup run while he was in quarantine when the Cup returned to Canada for engraving.
Phil Pritchard, a keeper of the Stanley Cup and the curator of the Hockey Hall of Fame, organized items for an upcoming exhibit on the Lightning's Stanley Cup run while he was in quarantine when the Cup returned to Canada for engraving. [ Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame ]

While the Cup was getting engraved, Pritchard quarantined at his home in Toronto. He slept in a bedroom in his basement and worked outside in a makeshift office under a gazebo in his backyard. He used the time to curate an upcoming Hall exhibit on the Lightning’s Stanley Cup run, organizing items collected throughout Tampa Bay’s time in the playoff bubbles in Toronto and Edmonton.

The stick that Steven Stamkos used to score a go-ahead goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals will be a part of a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit on the Lightning's championship run.
The stick that Steven Stamkos used to score a go-ahead goal in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals will be a part of a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit on the Lightning's championship run. [ Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame ]

Among the items that will be in the exhibit, slated to be unveiled around Thanksgiving: the stick Stamkos used to score his Game 3 goal in the Cup final in his only playoff appearance because of injury; the helmet, gloves, shin pads and shoulder pads of Conn Smythe Trophy winner Victor Hedman; the puck Brayden Point put in the Blue Jackets net for a five-overtime win in the Lightning’s first game of the playoffs.

Some items — such as a Tampa Bay Times commemorative front page — were collected when the team returned to Tampa. Celebratory items such as champagne bottles, corks and beer cans also will be included. And Pritchard wanted to add items that would show visitors years from now what 2020 was like — things such as hand sanitizer bottles and arena signs advising people to keep 6 feet apart.

The Hockey Hall of Fame's exhibit on the Lightning's Stanley Cup championship run will include items from the bubble like celebratory cigars and bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes.
The Hockey Hall of Fame's exhibit on the Lightning's Stanley Cup championship run will include items from the bubble like celebratory cigars and bottles of hand sanitizer and antibacterial wipes. [ Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame ]

“That’s a huge part of that story as well,” Pritchard said. “I think what we won’t be able to tell in that display — and I want to figure out a way to do it — is how tight this Tampa Bay team became in those 65 days (in the playoff bubbles). The artifacts are one story, but how they mentally put it all together is, to me, fascinating.”

After Pritchard delivered the exhibit items to the Hall of Fame, he picked up the Cup at Toronto’s train station at 11:30 on Halloween night and returned to Tampa with Bishop on an 8 a.m. flight the following day.

Champagne bottles, corks and beer cans from the Lightning's Stanley Cup celebration are part of the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit that will open around Thanksgiving.
Champagne bottles, corks and beer cans from the Lightning's Stanley Cup celebration are part of the Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit that will open around Thanksgiving. [ Phil Pritchard/Hockey Hall of Fame ]

“Not every player has seen their name on it as of yet,” Pritchard said. “A lot have, and it’s pretty cool. To me, if there’s one thing we could do moving forward when we go back to, say, a regular year, I would push for that. The emotions are so powerful when someone sees their name on the Cup.”

And the Cup continues to make its way around the area again, drawing a crowd wherever it goes.

“We’ve basically been taking it to every Tampa landmark,” Bishop said. “If there’s a mural, we pop it out to take pictures, and then all the cars stop and people get out of their car and ask, ‘Is that the Stanley Cup?’ Everyone wants to get their picture with it, so it’s a magnet for people in the city right now.”

• • •

Thunderstruck: Celebrate the Tampa Bay Lightning’s one-of-a-kind championship season with this hardcover collector’s book

Advertisement

This site no longer supports your current browser. Please use a modern and up-to-date browser version for the best experience.

Chrome Firefox Safari Edge