The Tampa Bay Lightning won the National Hockey League’s prime trophy on Monday from inside the confines of a 24/7 pandemic bubble in western Canada, and devoid of any supporters in the arena to watch.
By Wednesday, the gamers have been back again in Florida, greeting hordes of unmasked supporters who turned out to celebrate their victory. No 1 appeared to thoughts that the point out experienced handed 700,000 confirmed coronavirus scenarios a handful of days before and was reporting an ordinary of at least 2,200 new circumstances a working day over the past week.
Wednesday’s celebration commenced with a boat parade by Lightning players via downtown Tampa, and segued into a social gathering in a regional stadium that was attended by about 12,000 to 15,000 men and women, according to The Tampa Bay Occasions.
“It almost feels like what we’re accomplishing now is, like, erroneous,” a single enthusiast, Wes King, explained.
Pics from the occasion showed thousands of unmasked enthusiasts cramming alongside one another on the lender of the Hillsborough River as unmasked players from the Lightning floated by on motorboats, ingesting beer and puffing on cigars.
Other unmasked gamers slapped hands and posed for selfies with admirers who had jammed collectively into a acquiring line, and even allowed enthusiasts to drink from the cup, as winning groups typically do.
“So … why did they commit months in a bubble if they had been just heading to go Covid outrageous the moment they have been launched?” one particular Canada-primarily based Twitter person wrote. “Not the brightest bulbs.”
The N.H.L. was the initial of the 4 key North American professional athletics leagues to total a season through the pandemic. It chose to base its playoff “bubbles” in Toronto and Edmonton simply because of their somewhat reduced infection premiums, specially in comparison with towns in the United States.
Players, workforce and league team members, and health-related officers have been fenced off inside of “secure zones” that integrated hockey arenas, follow amenities and accommodations. Broadcasters stood at a social distance while interviewing gamers on the ice. And many gamers went weeks, or months, devoid of looking at their families.
Even the league’s commissioner, Gary Bettman, had to develop detrimental exams throughout a weeklong property isolation, then quarantine in his resort place for a number of times, in advance of he could present the Stanley Cup to the Lightning.
“There’s no more challenging championship to acquire,” Mr. Bettman claimed just before handing the trophy to the team’s captain, Steven Stamkos. “The gauntlet that you have to operate to hoist this trophy is unbelievable, and hardly ever more unbelievable than this 12 months.”
In other sports activities information associated to the pandemic, Significant League Baseball explained it would promote tickets to the Nationwide League Championship Sequence and the Entire world Collection this October, each of which will be held at the Texas Rangers’ new retractable-roof ballpark in Arlington. The American League Championship Series will be played in San Diego, but the league could not get approval from California to promote tickets there.