Lightning's Stanley Cup Win Caps Successful Bubble Tourney For NHL
The Lightning winning the Stanley Cup last night means the NHL's bubble postseason has come to an end, and it has been an "interesting experience and noteworthy physiological experiment for some," according to Derek Van Diest of the EDMONTON JOURNAL. The Lightning's win over the Stars "brought an end to the most unique NHL tournament in history." Lightning coach Jon Cooper said, "There has been a lot of good. It's been an experience and for the most part, it's been a really cool experience." With no positive tests reported over the entire nine-week period, the NHL "should be commended for pulling off what seemed unlikely when play was paused on March 12." Lightning D Kevin Shattenkirk said of the experience, "It really brings you closer as a team and a staff and you don't always get that opportunity during the season." Meanwhile, Stars interim coach Rick Bowness said with a laugh, "There won't be one bit of this bubble life that I'll miss" (EDMONTON JOURNAL, 9/29). Sportsnet’s Kelly Hrudey said of completing the season, "I had many doubts, and I didn’t think this was even possible. Even when they were going to the bubble, we heard about the bubble, I just didn’t think they could pull it off. I really credit the NHL and the NHLPA for coming together and sacrificing all they have so that we are here to this day witnessing the Tampa Bay Lightning hoisting the Stanley Cup for the second time” (“HNIC,” Sportsnet, 9/28).
UNUSUAL CIRCUMSTANCES: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman when he came out to present the Cup to the Lightning said, "To be in this place at this time under these circumstances is remarkable, and, frankly, overwhelming." The WALL STREET JOURNAL's Vipal Monga writes the Lightning's win "marks a successful end to the season that seemed to be in doubt" (WALL STREET JOURNAL, 9/29). In Tampa, Diana Nearhos writes the Stanley Cup "has never been celebrated with so many cell phones." Usually there are "hugs with families, but that had to be done virtually this year." Cooper got on a video call with Lightning Owner Jeff Vinik in the locker room, "getting the whole team together in the frame." Nearhos writes this postseason "was unlike any other, played in a bubble without fans and four months behind schedule" (TAMPA BAY TIMES, 9/29).
DESERVED PRAISE: THE ATHLETIC's Arpon Basu writes for the "first time in forever," Bettman was "not booed when he came out to present the Stanley Cup." Basu: "And for the first time in forever, he didn't deserve to be booed." The completion of this tournament amid these circumstances was "something that merited applause, not only for Bettman but also for all the players, team staff, league staff, NHLPA staff, everyone involved." That applause "did not come, but at least the traditional jeers weren't there, either." As the celebration took place on the ice, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly was "sitting in the stands, watching from afar." He had "as much to do with the success of this moment as his boss, but there he was, sitting in the stands in obscurity, snapping pictures with his phone just like anyone else would in that situation" (THEATHLETIC.com, 9/29). In Winnipeg, Paul Friesen writes the NHL administered more than 33,000 coronavirus tests during its season restart with zero positives reported, and it is doubtful that Bettman at his "most optimistic moments would have predicted this outcome when the league convened 24 teams in two cities in early August." Friesen: "Gather athletes in their twenties and thirties together and expect them to follow the protocols at your own risk" (WINNIPEG SUN, 9/29).
NO ASTERISK NEEDED: In Toronto, Michael Traikos writes in the end, the NHL's return to play "wasn't the disaster it could easily have been." The players "deserve credit for that" as they "bought in." What the Lightning and Stars "went through in the past eight weeks was anything but easy." If there is an "asterisk attached to this championship, it should signify just how difficult this championship was to win" (TORONTO SUN, 9/29). YAHOO SPORTS' Justin Cuthbert wrote, "All that asterisk talk, what a waste of breath." In no way "should this accomplishment for the Lightning be looked at differently or considered anything less" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 9/28).
HAPPY TO SEE IT END: In Dallas, Matthew DeFranks writes at times, the NHL bubble was an "onslaught of hockey." At other times, it was a "concrete and fence-bound boring existence away from families and friends, more than two months rotating through the same restaurants" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/29). Stars C Tyler Seguin said, "A lot of guys in this league or in this business don't have that opportunity to feel this pressure, and we had a lot of fun with it. So it was great, but other than that, there's nothing positive you're really going to take from bubble life. It definitely sucked, and I think we're all looking forward to seeing family and friends now" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/29).