The Stanley Cup trophy has made countless appearances across the region since the Tampa Bay Lightning have won back-to-back National Hockey League (NHL) titles.
It’s been on display for area police and fire departments, county commissions, mayor’s offices, hospitals, colleges, and nonprofit organizations, to name a few.
It was at one of its final stops — before the start of the Lightning’s 2021-2022 campaign — in Pasco County, at AdventHealth Center Ice in Wesley Chapel.
The appearance was impromptu on a Tuesday afternoon in late September, coordinated by longtime Tampa Bay Lightning team chiropractor Dr. Tim Bain.
Bain’s sports medicine and interventional pain practice — B3 Medical — is adjacent to the Center Ice complex.
Moreover, Bain is actively involved in Center Ice programming. He helps to run an in-house performance training center that primarily caters to the facility’s Global Prospects Academy.
His son, Josh, also is a member of the facility’s Tampa Bay Juniors Hockey Club.
As a contracted Lightning employee, Bain was able to spend a day — Sept. 27, to be exact — with the Cup, which the Lightning won in July after defeating the Montreal Canadians in five games in the best-of-seven series. (The Lightning also won the trophy during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, defeating the Dallas Stars in six games.)
Bain felt it fitting to share his coveted Cup time with others — allowing Center Ice staffers, members, and adult and youth guests to soak up the prestigious trophy and all its glory.
For roughly an hour, dozens upon dozens of people viewed the trophy, admired its history and snapped countless photos.
They were obviously having a great time.
Bain especially wanted the facility’s younger hockey players to get an up-close look at the Cup, which stands about 35 inches tall, weighs 35 pounds, and is made of silver and nickel alloy.
“It’s inspiring,” Bain said of the trophy. “The ultimate goal for any kid that’s ever picked up a hockey stick and put on a pair of skates is the Stanley Cup, right? I don’t think there’s any trophy in sports that is that iconic, and it’s just a really interesting way to be able to give back to the community, and it’s what I want to do.”
Center Ice owner Gordie Zimmerman echoed the “awesome” experience of having the Cup on hand at the facility, albeit for only a short period.
He pointed out many non-hockey fans visiting or working at the complex also were awed by the championship trophy that’s not only awarded annually to the NHL playoff champion, but is the oldest existing trophy (commissioned in 1892) to be awarded to a professional franchise in North America.
“It’s amazing how even people that are not hockey-related, how much attention it grabs,” Zimmerman said. “It just goes to show you the recognition it gets, even when you’re not related to hockey, so it’s pretty exciting.”
Lightning alumni relations coordinator Rachel Kilman was among the NHL officials who helped chaperone the careful movement and interaction of the Cup, at Center Ice.
Every stop around the community with the trophy has been “super, super special,” said Kilman, adding many people are in disbelief upon viewing the Cup in person.
“Everybody’s very, very excited that it’s there,” she said. “There’s nothing like it, there’s only one of them.”
Center Ice facility operations director Rory Mushlin was given short notice that the Cup would be making a special appearance to the 150,500-square-foot complex — the largest ice rink in the southeastern United States.
Mushlin has worked in facility operations for two-plus decades, including stints with the NHL’s San Jose Sharks and New York Islanders.
The New York native grew up on the ice sport, quipping, “I learned to drive a Zamboni before a car.”
While his work experiences have allowed him to view the Cup several times, he’s quick to note every chance to do so is quite memorable.
“Look, I think that is the hardest trophy in all of sports to win,” he said, “and I think that when you have the opportunity to see it up close and personal, it’s always special, no matter how old or how many times you’ve done it in the past.”
That particularly is the case for the younger generation of hockey players who practice and play at Center Ice, he said.
“For the youth hockey generation that we have now, it’s just more and more important for people to get that opportunity (to see the trophy),” he said. “Just like when you get a young kid that wants to be a firefighter, every time a fire truck drives up the street, their eyes light up — I think it’s the same thing for hockey players.”
Gearing up for another Lightning season
Bain has been the Lightning’s team chiropractor since 2011.
He 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.
Now, as the franchise begins its run for a Stanley Cup three-peat, Bain is upbeat the team can have yet another successful season — despite having to replace its entire third line, among other roster changes.
The Lightning begins its 2021-2022, 82-game regular season on Oct. 12 against the Pittsburgh Penguins at Amalie Arena.
“They’re a good team,” Bain said. “I think they’re a really solid group and returning a lot of guys…so it’s going to be a fun year. It’s always hard, these (championships) are super hard to even think about, so, the fun is in the chase.”
As to why the Lightning has been one of the model franchises in pro sports in recent years, Bain credits the organization’s “really, really good culture” that promotes teamwork over individualism.
“Everybody buys in, everybody’s part of the team,” Bain said. “It doesn’t matter if you’re the lowly chiropractor or the guy that brings in the food at night; we’re all part of the team and they’ve really embraced that.”
Published October 13, 2021