Dr. Timothy Bain dreamed of someday hoisting the NHL’s Stanley Cup, as he grew up in the Northeast and played and watched hockey.
Little did he expect, however, to actually get that rare opportunity.
“Who knew at 53 (years old) that this would happen? I thought it’d happen at like 23,” Bain quipped, in reference to hoisting the Cup, after the Lightning’s Stanley Cup win after six games against the Dallas Stars.
The Wesley Chapel resident has been the Lightning’s team chiropractor since 2011.
He also runs his own practice, B3 Medical, with locations in Wesley Chapel, New Tampa, Carrollwood and Riverview, and works with a sports performance facility at Saddlebrook Resort & Spa designed for elite-level athletes.
Bain assists Lightning players on injury prevention and body maintenance.
The scope of work includes neurological-based adjustments, post-concussion therapy, craniosacral therapy, plus other exercise therapies to help improve muscle tissue on extremities, such as feet and ankles.
“Ultimately, it’s about getting the athlete better,” Bain said, describing his role with the team.
The chiropractor’s work to enhance players’ bodies for the ice was deemed so critical that he was included in the team’s 52-member traveling party (including players and coaches) to the NHL’s quarantine “bubble” for the postseason tournament in Canada.
“They were really great at saying, ‘We need you there, we want you there, you’re a big part of our team,’ and it made me feel really good and proud of that,” Bain said.
The traveling party spent a combined 65 days at hotels in Toronto and then Edmonton through the team’s lengthy title run, from late July through late September, where all games were played without fans in attendance. The great measures were put in place to safely complete the NHL playoffs amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
For Bain and other Lightning personnel, being away from family and home for so long was quite challenging. So, too, was being cooped up in a hotel room, ice rink or training room.
The Wesley Chapel physician made the best of it, however.
He approached it as a valuable bonding experience, particularly when the club shifted to Rogers Place in Edmonton for the conference finals, where rinks and hotels are intertwined.
He likened it to a kid’s summer camp, where everyone bunks together on the same floor and is around each other seemingly at all times.
“We lived on basically one floor, and we walked to the rink and walked back to the floor,” Bain said. “We had a really small, little treatment room, and all the guys kind of came in there and hung in there while they were getting treated, or waited to get treated, so we became a real close-knit group through this whole bubble process.
“I never want to have to leave my family again for that long, but it was a really great experience,” he said.
Boredom might’ve set in for some on non-game days, but Bain kept busy all throughout.
He worked with each of the 25-plus active players on various therapy regimens and body maintenance, all while keeping tabs on his medical businesses back in Tampa.
“Me, I really didn’t have a lot of downtime,” Bain said. “All of us therapists were extremely busy from sun up to 12 a.m., 1 a.m. We had guys working on different things and keeping them on track. You may have had an hour here or an hour there to grab a sandwich, but you really didn’t have a ton of downtime.”
Circumstances aside, seeing the Lightning win the Cup for the first time since 2004 ranks among his life’s most special moments.
“I was hoping to win a Stanley Cup since I can remember, and so this is a way to have that dream come true,” Bain said.
Like other staff members of the Lightning — Bain has since enjoyed some personal time with the Cup, like hugging it during the team’s plane ride back to the United States.
He’s partaken in other Cup traditions — kissing it, sharing drinks out of it, and otherwise marveling at it in the training room and lunchroom at team headquarters. “We really had a lot of great time to spend with the Cup,” Bain said.
As a hockey lifer, Bain appreciates the significance of the moments.
Aside from playing hockey as a youth and working for the Lightning, Bain’s also been a longtime referee in the sport’s minor leagues.
The Cup is the oldest existing trophy to be awarded to a professional sports franchise in North America. Part of its lore is being the only trophy in major sports not reproduced each year.
When a team wins the Cup, they are allowed to hold on to the trophy for one year, and the name of every player, coach and front-office employee is inscribed onto it.
With that, it’s widely considered bad form for players and hockey fans to touch the Cup if their team didn’t win it in a particular year.
Naturally, Bain had never touched the Cup until now.
“There’s no trophy in the world like it, right?,” Bain said. “There’s only one of these things, and part of that joy is being able to spend some time with it.”
Talent, grit, leadership carried Lightning
The Lightning had its fair share of opportunities to claim an NHL championship since Bain began working for the club nearly a decade ago.
Before this banner season, Bain was sure the 2018-2019 team would win the Cup following its 62-win regular season — which tied the 1995-1996 Detroit Red Wings for most by a team in the regular season in NHL history.
That squad, however, was shockingly swept in four games by then No. 8 seeded Columbus Blue Jackets in the first round.
Bain had a front row seat to that squad’s April 2019 playoff meltdown.
“We had the superstars,” he said, “(but) we didn’t necessarily have the grit and the determination and the size to get through the way that the game is (loosely) officiated and played differently throughout the playoffs.”
Bain also viewed the 2014-2015 and 2015-2016 teams capable of winning a title, until key injuries to goalies and others hit at the wrong time.
This year was different though. A couple circumstances gave Bain unwavering confidence the Lightning would finally pull off a Cup win.
He credited the organization’s respective acquisitions of forwards Blake Coleman and Barclay Goodrow and defensemen Zach Bogosian, Pat Maroon and Luke Schenn.
Those players, Bain said, “changed the culture enough” by bringing some toughness to the club to complement its offensive-minded skill players.
The team chiropractor singled out Maroon for his leadership in bringing the team together during a critical weeklong trip to Sweden back in November.
“Where there may have been cliques before, Pat Maroon changed that,” Bain said of the 32-year-old defenseman who also won the Cup in 2019 with the St. Louis Blues, becoming the third player in the NHL expansion era to register back-to-back titles with different teams.
Another watershed moment, Bain said, came when the team was exacting revenge over Columbus in a five overtime 3-2 victory in Game 1 in the Eastern Conference first round on Aug. 11 — the fourth-longest game in NHL history.
“When we won that game, that’s when I thought, ‘This is gonna happen,’” Bain said of the possibility on the Lightning winning the Cup.
Besides the outright win, it was the team’s composed locker room between each period that opened his eyes: “When the guys were coming out or going in, they were all laughing and having fun, and there was not a guy in there that was nervous, and they kept it that way through five overtimes.”
He added: “Everybody was on the same page, they all bought into a system and put aside their own personal stuff to win a goal, and it was an amazing thing to be a part of.”
Now that he’s hoisted the Cup, Bain already has a new goal — defending the Cup in 2021, hopefully at Amalie Arena, in front of 20,000 or so screaming Lightning fans.
“That would be nice, wouldn’t it? That was the hardest part, is we weren’t able to do that with all the fans,” Bain said.
Published October 14, 2020