‘Unbelievable, nobody can beat us:’ Bolts players, fans soak up every moment during boat parade


TAMPA (WFLA) – Tampa Bay Lightning Head Coach Jon Cooper’s boat cruised down the Davis Islands Channel with the Prince of Wales Trophy, which his team won after defeating the New York Islanders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs Semifinal round.

“Trophies and rings, they never get old,” Cooper told 8 On Your Side.

Neither do boat parades in Champa Bay.

285 days after their first boat parade, the best team in hockey was back on the Hillsborough River and hoisting the Stanley Cup for all to see.

“Unbelievable, nobody can beat us back to back years,” a shirtless Nikita Kucherov said. “Unreal team. Everybody played hard.”

These Bolts know how to party hard, too, maybe no one more than forward Pat Maroon who completed the Stanley Cup hat trick of winning three years in a row.

“I guess if you got Patty on your team, you win every time, but we’re soaking this all up its a special moment for our group,” defenseman Ryan McDonagh said, as Maroon sat on the same boat chugging a beer during WFLA News Channel 8’s parade coverage

Maroon even told 8 On Your Side’s Josh Benson that McDonagh played through the entire playoff run with a broken hand.

It has been quite the special week for Lightning team owner Jeff Vinik and his family.

“I got my son married two days ago and a beautiful day Tampa Bay,” Vinik said. “Thank you all. You’re an awesome community, guys, thank you!”

Even on a Monday, thousands of fans still lined up along the Tampa Riverwalk to catch a glimpse of their favorite players and of course the shiny Stanley Cup. They soaked up every moment before the afternoon downpour forced the cancellation of the post-parade celebration at Julian B. Lane Park.

“The one thing about this year doing it in front of our fans, its kind of that extra push that we needed especially in Game Seven against the Islanders and Game Five against the Canadiens,” Coach Cooper said. “They’re like the sixth man, really gave us a huge boost.”

While the celebration will certainly last through the summer, it is never too early to look ahead to the next season.

“Once you win you want to keep doing it and to do it back to back was unbelievable feeling, don’t get us wrong,” defenseman Victor Hedman said. “We’re coming back next year and we’re trying to do it again.”

The Bolts made it down the river without recreating the notorious Tom Brady trophy toss.

However, 8 On Your Side confirmed with a team spokesperson that the Stanley Cup is a bit dinged up after the parade and needs to be sent to Montreal for some repairs.

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