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Tampa Bay Lightning Win Stanley Cup, Celebrate In An Empty Stadium

TONYA MOSLEY, HOST:

Here's one thing that isn't the same during a pandemic - winning the Stanley Cup.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

Last night, the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Dallas Stars and were crowned champions of a coronavirus-shortened hockey season. It was a big moment. You can hear it in the call by Doc Emrick for NBC.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

DOC EMRICK: And the Tampa Bay Lightning have won the Stanley Cup.

SHAPIRO: But listen closely to that arena sound.

(CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: That's not the cheering of thousands of Tampa fans or the groans of Dallas supporters. It's the whoops of a couple dozen hockey players and staff.

MOSLEY: This game, like much of the season, was played in the NHL's quarantine bubble - no fans, just an empty arena in Edmonton, Alberta.

SHAPIRO: That may have been a welcome change of pace for Gary Bettman, the NHL commissioner. Traditionally, fans greet his appearances with boos - not last night.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

GARY BETTMAN: It is my honor to present the Stanley Cup to Steven Stamkos.

(CHEERING)

SHAPIRO: Stamkos and the rest of the Lightning players took their turns hoisting the 35-pound trophy, as tradition dictates. But without the fans, it all felt a little quaint, except for the pyrotechnics echoing through the empty stands.

(SOUNDBITE OF FIREWORKS)

MOSLEY: None of this dampened the enthusiasm of the faithful back in Tampa. They gathered outside of the Lightning's home arena to watch on the big screen. And when the final buzzer sounded, the whole crowd was on its feet, supplying the roar that the broadcast was missing.

(CHEERING)

MOSLEY: The team will get its hometown honors, despite the pandemic. There's a Stanley Cup champions boat parade in Tampa tomorrow - social distancing and face coverings encouraged. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.