For two full months the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Dallas Stars were in a Canadian bubble. The players had significant restrictions of what they could do, where to go, and who they could talk to and spend their time with. When the Lightning finally won the Stanley Cup on Monday with a brilliant shutout performance by Andrei Vasilevskiy in a 2-0 Tampa Bay win at Rogers Place in Edmonton, star defenseman Victor Hedman received the Conn Smythe Trophy, and captain Steven Stamkos was the first to receive the Stanley Cup from National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman. The Lightning then began their celebrations.
The 2020 National Hockey League season was unlike any other, and once the Lightning came to Tampa Bay the franchise should have remembered why they were in a bubble to begin with. Many of the celebrations that occured this past week were extremely dangerous during the worst pandemic our civilization has seen in a century. Floridians were seen drinking from the Stanley Cup, and partying close together. One needs to ask how on Earth did the Lightning allow this to happen?
Even though the players were on boats during the parade, and properly social distancing, the fans who lined up to see their stars, were clearly not. There is no reason why this event or the celebration at Raymond James Stadium should have been scheduled.
One must realize the Lightning did not break any Florida state rules. Bars and night clubs throughout the state are now allowed to open at full capacity. However, the fact that Florida Governor Ron DeSantis are allowing Florida bars and restaurants to open again is stunning when you consider the fact there are 345,660 active cases of coronavirus in Florida with 14,640 deaths to date.
One must also question Lightning center’s Alex Killorn’s comments. During the celebrations, the veteran center thanked DeSantis for opening Florida bars on Monday, right before the team won their second Stanley Cup in franchise history. Bars right now are generally not the safest place to be.
As the NHL penalized the Arizona Coyotes this summer by forfeiting their draft picks for combine testing violations, the actions of the Lightning could have been considered significantly worse. Their events could have been dangerous to public safety. For that, they need to be penalized significantly more than the Coyotes.