Lightning improve despite global pandemic


Photo provided by: Julia Moon

This year marks the second time the Tampa Bay Lightning franchise won the Stanley Cup. The NHL team, established in 1992, was awarded their first Stanley Cup in 2004.

Julia Moon, News Editor

Florida is home to two National Hockey League (NHL) teams: the Florida Panthers and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Of the two NHL ice hockey teams, the Tampa Bay Lightning seem to have a much better grasp at the game, especially in comparison to last season’s try for the 2019 Stanley Cup.

Since 1983, the Stanley Cup Playoffs has been the annual NHL championship, with the championship trophy being awarded to the playoff winner of the Cup Finals. Since the start of this season’s run, the Lightning has eliminated their 2019 Stanley Cup rival, the Columbus Blue Jackets, who they lost to early on in the championship. Not long after, the Boston Bruins and New York Islanders were defeated by the Lightning, leading to their Eastern Conference title win. 

“Obviously they’re [Tampa Bay Lighting] doing a lot better,” junior Dylan Berehowsky said. “I think that overall Tampa is better this year as far as playoffs go, but also I think last year they may have just been a little cocky going into playoffs because they had done so well during the season. Last year they got swept, they didn’t win a single game in [the] playoffs. Now they’re almost at the finals.”

In this season’s Stanley Cup, the Lightning has won three playoff series in a row and clinched a spot in the Cup Final, the first since their Stanley Cup Final loss against the Chicago Blackhawks in 2015. On Sep. 28 the Lightning celebrated as the 2020 Stanley Cup champions, the second win 16 years after the franchise’s first in the 2004 Stanley Cup Final.

“This year’s Stanley Cup is interesting to say the least,” AP Physics teacher Stephen McGovern said. “I miss the days of home field advantage. Without a crowd, it really takes away the home field advantage, and without that you could say that it truly means that maybe the best team wins, but it just seems a bit empty without cheering fans.”

Beginning late July, the National Basketball Association (NBA) started to implement a “bubble system” to isolate teams and protect athletes and staff from COVID-19.  Likewise, the NHL pushed back the original April date and rescheduled the start of the playoffs to Aug. 1, 2020, with the introduction of a NHL bubble system. However, the absence of a live audience is causing struggles with profit. In the postseason alone, teams lost 150,000 to 200,000 dollars in ticket sales (CBC).

“I think that given the circumstances, they [NHL] should have cancelled their events, but I know that they are still a business and need to make money,” junior Christina Norberg said. “Considering they need to play to make a profit, they are taking responsible precautions and are doing a good job trying to keep their players safe.”

Nevertheless, the 2020 Stanley Cup still took place. With or without the live crowd, the Lightning has continued to push through rivalries, and the effort that the team has put into this year’s Stanley Cup season shows in comparison to their previous attempts.

“It’s a different atmosphere,” Berehowsky said. “It’s definitely a little weird just because the fans make it a lot more energetic and crazy and cheering. It’s just a lot different.”