The unique circumstances of the 2019-20 NHL season will give the Tampa Bay Lightning an opportunity no other club has ever enjoyed.
For the first time, the Stanley Cup winners' names will already be engraved when each member of the championship team gets their day with the trophy.
"We've been thinking outside of the box," Phil Pritchard, one of two keepers of the Cup, told the Tampa Bay Times' Eduardo A. Encina. "(We've been asking ourselves,) 'How can we make some positives in a non-traditional, kind of negative time in the world?' and this (was) one of them. Let's get the Cup engraved so when we do have that opportunity, the guys can celebrate it. So, it's a huge positive I think, and everyone (agreed) with it."
Usually, the champions' names are engraved just before the start of the following season, after each title-winning player has already spent their day with the Cup. Because of pandemic protocols pertaining to travel, the Lightning haven't had the chance to take turns bringing the trophy to their respective hometowns, according to Encina.
While waiting for the go-ahead to carry out that tradition, the hardware was sent to Montreal to be engraved.
"Not every player has seen their name on it as of yet," Pritchard said. "A lot have, and it's pretty cool. To me, if there's one thing we could do moving forward when we go back to, say, a regular year, I would push for that. The emotions are so powerful when someone sees their name on the Cup."
The Lightning won Lord Stanley's mug Sept. 28 and partied with it during their much-criticized parade two days later.