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Lightning root for friends on Buccaneers to win Super Bowl LV vs. Chiefs

Stanley Cup winners say Tampa Bay deserves two champions at same time

by Dan Rosen @drosennhl / Senior Writer

Alex Killorn has figured out what he wants to do if the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defeat the Kansas City Chiefs in Super Bowl LV on Sunday.

"If they win and they do a boat parade, I'm jumping on my jet ski [and joining in] for sure," the Tampa Bay Lightning forward said. 

There is one problem. If the Buccaneers win and the city of Tampa hosts a boat parade for them next week, just as it did for the Lightning after they won the Stanley Cup in September, Killorn will be on the road, either in Nashville or down in South Florida.

But why let those facts ruin a good idea, especially for a hockey player from Montreal who has become a big Buccaneers fan? 

"Hopefully the Bucs can get it done and we can have two champions in the city at the same time," Killorn said.

The Lightning are among the Buccaneers' biggest supporters in Tampa, which is hosting the game at Raymond James Stadium.

The Lightning players and coaches cannot be around the Super Bowl festivities because of COVID-19 protocols, but they feel the buzz around the city leading up to the big game. 

"I really wish we could be celebrating this with all the great fans here in Tampa," Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said. "That would be quite a run of sports here in this city. … This city is very deserving of that."

Killorn is one of the Lightning's biggest Buccaneers fans, saying he became one when he arrived in Tampa Bay in 2013 because he never had a favorite NFL team growing up.

Stamkos and many others have become vocal, particularly on social media, in their support for the Buccaneers and quarterback Tom Brady.

"I'm a big football fan to begin with, so I follow that anyway, but obviously when it's in your home city it's a lot of fun," said forward Blake Coleman, who was traded to Tampa Bay by the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 16, 2020. "On top of that, obviously you're watching one of the greatest players to ever play the game of football. My whole family has enjoyed it. It's cool how a connection to a city can bring all that joy and entertainment to you."

Stamkos said he felt the same way when the Tampa Bay Rays were playing in the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers less than a month after the Lightning won the Stanley Cup. The Rays lost in six games.

"You kind of dream you can be a professional athlete in a different sport too," Stamkos said of the Buccaneers and Rays. "I watch those guys. I admire them. They're inspiring for us as athletes to watch what they have to go through in order to achieve their dream."

There is a special camaraderie among them, Killorn said.

Many Lightning players took the Stanley Cup to Raymond James Stadium and got their own suite for the Buccaneers game against the Los Angeles Chargers on Oct. 4.

Killorn, Stamkos, goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy and forward Nikita Kucherov chatted up and took pictures with the Cup and Giselle Bundchen, Brady's wife, in her private suite.

Killorn and Vasilevskiy brought the Cup to Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski so he could see it. Buccaneers tight end Cameron Brate and Killorn each played their respective sports at Harvard University and have become friends in Tampa. 

Killorn said he hasn't been in touch with Brate since the NFL playoffs began because he doesn't want to bother him.

"I'll text him after Sunday," Killorn said. "Hopefully it's a good text."

Lightning coach Jon Cooper welcomed Buccaneers coach Bruce Arians into his office at Amalie Arena a year ago, before the pause in the NHL season because of the coronavirus. Arians left with a personalized Lightning jersey, and Cooper said he gained an appreciation for the coach.

"We all kind of live near each other," Killorn said. "It's tight knit. When you think of other cities like New York, guys are so spread out. I live down the street from Tom Brady. I live close to 'Gronk.' It's just a smaller-town vibe. Not that I'm going over and knocking on Brady's door and hanging out with him, but you do see guys around a lot more and guys are just really supportive of each other."

Killorn said he hasn't met Brady.

"But guys have seen him scooting around," he said. "We live on Davis Island so they've seen him on his scooter." 

The Lightning travel to Nashville on Sunday. The plan is to set up in a large ballroom at their hotel so they can watch the game together in a socially distanced way.

Many of them will be hanging on every play because that's what fans do, even Stanley Cup champions.

"When you have a seven-game series, obviously you don't want to slip up, you want to play your best, but you have a little room for error and you can make a mistake and still make up for it," defenseman Victor Hedman said. "But in the Super Bowl it's just one game. … I don't want to be in their shoes when you know it's one game and how many people are watching, but they've had a [heck] of a season so far and I'm really proud as a Tampa citizen."

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