It’s been four months and seventeen days since the Tampa Bay Lightning left Toronto on the heels of a 2-1 loss. They return to Hogtown somewhat healthier (or at least we hope so) and ready to compete for the Stanley Cup. All twelve Eastern Conference teams arrived in the hub city on Sunday and settled into their respective hotels (where a few were met with a nice little touch from their organization).
It’s their home away from home for the next few months and it’ll be interesting to see how the players adapt to their new surroundings. Life inside The Bubble will start leaking out on social media as well as through official NHL channels.
The team’s final roster was officially released on Sunday around the same time the team boarded their charter plane to Toronto. There were no surprises as all of the players on the roster prior to The Pause were on there and Mathieu Joseph, Alexander Volkov, and Scott Wedgewood were the extra players that rounded off the 28 player list. The organization chose not to use their full allocation of 31 players, presumably to be able to include some extra staff (such as team sports psychologist, Dr. Ryan Hamilton, who will be included in the travel party) to assist with any off-the-ice issues that might arise in Toronto.
The Tampa Bay Lightning postseason roster. No surprises. pic.twitter.com/cN3uVL8bj4— Raw Charge (@RawCharge) July 26, 2020
While he was on the roster, Norris Finalist Victor Hedman was not on the plane ride to Toronto. Per General Manager Julien BriseBois, Hedman requested a few extra days to remain in Tampa this to deal with a “personal matter”. The plan is for him to join the team on Friday in time to play in the round robin games. [NHL.com]
Hedman will stay in Tampa along with Tampa Bay director of high performance and strength coach Mark Lambert until Friday, at which point both will fly to Toronto and meet back up with the team.
“We’re essentially extending their Phase 3 where they will continue to test every day,” BriseBois said. “He’ll get to skate here at AMALIE Arena and get some off-ice workouts with Mark.”
Steven Stamkos will also miss the exhibition game on Wednesday, but the team expects him to play in at least one of the round robin game.
“We’re taking this day by day,” [Coach Jon] Cooper said. “But there has been a lot of improvement and hopefully we can start ramping things up with Stammer in Toronto.”
Cooper said it’s “vital” Stamkos participates in one of the round robin game in preparation for when the Lightning begin the best-of-seven, Eastern Conference Quarterfinal round, but is unsure if he will be able to do so.
It’s not great that there is no definite return date for the captain of the team, but until he actually misses time in games that count there is no need to hit the panic button (although that doesn’t stop us from remembering where it’s at).
The lack of haircuts during The Pause has led to some sweet flow for the Lightning
Around the league
Well, things certainly escalated in Arizona. General Manager John Chayka resigned his position with the team, or as the Coyotes put it in their official statement he “has chosen to quit on a strong and competitive team, a dedicated staff, and the Arizona Coyotes fans, the greatest fans in the NHL”. For his part, Chayka responded with a statement of his own saying that he would like to be in Edmonton with the team, but “Sadly, the situation created by ownership made that an impossibility.”
As usual, there are most likely three sides to the story: the Coyotes, Chayka’s, and what really happened. Steve Sullivan has the unenviable task of taking over as interim general manager until the playoffs are over. [Five for Howling]
The only good and wholesome thing in Philadelphia is Gritty. Well, normally, that is. On Sunday, Oskar Lindblom was added to the Flyers postseason roster. It’s a pretty amazing journey for the young forward who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma back in December, completed his radiation treatments in early July, and then signed a three-year extension a few days ago. [CBS Sports]
The NHL shared some photos from the hub city rinks
The Lightning aren’t the only team missing their future hall of fame center. The Penguins are heading to Toronto with the status of Sidney Crosby still up in the air. Time is a little more of the essence for Pittsburgh as they are facing off against the Canadiens starting on Saturday. [Pensburgh]
So, at least there’s that declaration that playing Tuesday is the goal, and appears to be attainable right now. It would be a great sign if Sid is with the full team tomorrow and still on track to play on Tuesday. Either way, he almost certainly will be playing on Saturday against Montreal. The only real question now is probably whether or not he’ll be dealing with a nagging and possibly limiting injury that might be a nuisance for the rest of the season.
Alright folks. We’ve made it to Phase IV. Rest up this week, because starting on Saturday there is going to be wall-to-wall hockey for the next few weeks. Keep washing your hands and wearing your mask.