When the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup following the 2020 NHL Season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers matched them by winning last season’s Super Bowl. Now, the Lightning have repeated as the best team in hockey, turning the attention back to the Bucs to keep Tampa’s winning going for one more run.
Is it really adding more pressure though? Speaking with DraftKings analyst Geoff Ulrich, James Yarcho and I asked him this very question.
“It does feel like the most pressure the Bucs (are) going to have this year might be from just the local expectations of the fans,” Ulrich said. “This is a team who most people thought was going to be better, but they really kind of exceeded expectations...Obviously, Tampa’s turned into this like, insane championship town (and) even the Rays almost got in on it. So, I feel like the local expectations are definitely going to be what puts the most pressure on the Bucs.”
Of course, the Buccaneers and Lightning already have something in common with just the way they’re starting this post-championship season.
A lot of people expected the Bucs to lose at least one, if not more, of their valuable free agents during the 2021 off-season. However, due to some willingness to work numbers by players like Lavonte David, Rob Gronkowski, and Shaq Barrett the entire team is back.
And while fancy salary cap management may be sort of new for Tampa’s football franchise, its hockey squad did some similarly creative money management ahead of this past NHL season. Something, not all hockey fans were fond of.
Yarcho asked Ulrich about the Lightning being over $18M over the salary cap, and the ever-controversial ‘cap circumvention’ loop-hole exploited by the franchise this year.
“You look at what good teams do, it’s not just that they put out good players or that they have good players, it's that they’re smart franchises. The Patriots in the NFL have done things like this for years. Bill Belichick taking advantage of rules that people don’t even realize...It’s a loophole that every team knew existed.”
The Lightning and Buccaneers each won championships at the end of their league’s 2020 campaigns. Now, the Lightning have done it again in 2021 with the help of some creative cap management.
Jason Licht and the Bucs have already matched the Lightning’s creative money math - though not with the same ire the Lightning drew with theirs - now, all that’s left to do is go get that trophy. Simple, really.
Ulrich talked plenty of Lightning and Buccaneers fantasy football as well when he appeared on the Locked On Bucs Podcast. A nice multi-sport conversation as we near the end of the 2021 off-season and get ready for training camp!