In this week’s edition of Tampa Bay Lightning news and rumors, we’ll discuss Stanley Cup celebrations, endorsements, the offseason decisions ahead, and more.
Back to Boat
On July 7, the Tampa Bay Lightning defeated the Montreal Canadiens to clinch their second consecutive Stanley Cup Championship. Thus, the first order of business this offseason is a celebration. The city of Tampa will host its third boat parade in just over nine months on July 12.
The Championship Boat Parade will kick off at 11:00 AM and will proceed down the Hillsborough River. Fans can attend via land, along the Riverwalk, and via water, idling in their boat near the parade route. At 2:00 PM, the party moves to Julian B. Lane Riverfront Park, where there will be live music and food trucks.
A multitude of fans were upset that the parade will be taking place during the day on Monday, preventing them from attending due to work and school. The festivities will not be held over the weekend because Lightning owner Jeff Vinik will be attending his son’s wedding. When asked about the scheduling of the parade, city of Tampa Mayor Jane Castor said,
“We wouldn’t be having this parade without the person who made it possible—and that is Jeff Vinik. So we’re going to make it on his schedule.”
It is unclear whether the team will try to replicate Tom Brady’s boat-to-boat trophy toss. However, Castor assured reporters that divers would be at the ready in the event that Stanley takes a swim.
I Get By With a Little Help From My Friends
Retired U.S. Air Force Technical Staff Sergeant Sonya Bryson-Kirksey has been performing anthems at Amalie Arena for nearly eight seasons. During Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final, the beloved singer cued the more than 18,000 fans in attendance to take over the anthem. It resulted in a beautiful moment, leaving many with a tear in their eye.
This was only the second time that Bryson-Kirksey has ever cued the crowd to take over, first doing so in April of 2015 after coming down with bronchitis. This time, a sore throat forced her hand (‘Sore Throat Prompted Tampa Bay Lightning Anthem Singer To Include Crowd During Game 5 Rendition’, Forbes, July 11, 2021). Although it wasn’t an ideal situation, it turned out to be the perfect way to kick off the game in which the Lightning clinched the Cup.
After the Lightning’s Stanley Cup win, forward Nikita Kucherov made headlines for his colorful post-game press conference. When he entered the room shirtless with Bud Light in hand, it was clear that this wasn’t going to be a typical interview. He went on to praise his teammate Andrei Vasilevskiy and criticize Canadiens fans for their celebration after their Game 4 win during the Stanley Cup Final. The interview drew mixed reviews, but Bud Light took notice, giving Kucherov a sponsorship two days later.
The day after the announcement, agent Dan Milstein reported that Vasilevskiy also signed an endorsement deal with the American brewery. It is safe to say that there will not be a shortage of Bud Light at the boat parade on Monday.
Offseason Questions Loom
When the confetti settles and the party is over, the Lightning will have a lot of work to do this offseason. According to CapFriendly, the team currently projects to be over the salary cap by roughly $3.5 million. It is clear that changes are looming, and the roster could look quite different next season. Trades could be in the offing, but re-signing free agents is another big question mark.
Barclay Goodrow is one of those free agents to keep an eye on. He has been instrumental to the Lightning’s success since traded to the team at the trade deadline of the 2019-20 season. During the 2021 Stanley Cup Final, he tallied an assist in three straight games to open the series and lit the lamp in Game 4. It remains to be seen who the Lightning will be able to afford to retain, but one thing is certain, the answers will have to wait. According to Joe Smith, Goodrow has yet to think about free agency, although he did say that he’s enjoyed his time in Tampa.
Another big talking point for the Lightning as they prepare for next season is the expansion draft. According to Pierre LeBrun, the NHL will release the league’s protection lists on July 18, meaning fans will be able to mentally prepare for which player could potentially move to the Seattle Kraken.
The Expansion Draft will take place on July 21, so the Stanley Cup celebration will have to be short for general manager Julien BriseBois and the rest of the front office. Here are some other notable dates for the month of July:
- July 13 – Deadline for clubs to request players to waive their No-Movement Clauses for the Expansion Draft
- July 23 – 2021 NHL Entry Draft begins
- July 26 – Deadline to submit qualifying offers to Restricted Free Agents
- July 28 – Free agency signing period begins
Needless to say, this is going to be a busy month. We will bring you all the details as the news and rumors develop in the weeks to come.
Andrew is a freelance writer who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Hockey Writers. He is a passionate hockey fan who grew up near Tampa, Florida. He is a husband, father to a Golden Retriever, and is studying to be a Physician Assistant. Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Mulville