Who was the best of the best for Tampa Bay?

by Gary Shelton on February 13, 2021

in general

Saturday, 4 a.m.

Now that it is over, the amazing thing about the domination of a town is how blindingly fast it occurred.

There were 180 days, if you're counting, between the time the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, through the Rays reaching the World Series, to the Bucs winning the Super Bowl. It was the most amazing six months in the history of sports in this community. Just that quick, and the Stanley Cup, the William Harridge Trophy and the Lombardi Trophy were on their way to town.

How fast is that? Consider this: The last time this happened, it felt fast, too. But from the time the Bucs opened the playoffs in 2003 until the Rays lost to the Phillies in the World Series, there were 2,115 days, more than 10 times the duration.

Heck, Magellan took 1,082 days on his journey.





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Here, we transformed from just another town to Champa Bay in the time it takes confetti to fall.

So, looking back, let's consider some Across Tampa Bay Trophies

MVP

Candidates:

Victor Hedman, Conn Smuthe Award, Lightning.

Randy Arozarena, ACLS MVP, Rays.

Tom Brady, Super Bowl MVP, Bucs.

Arozarena was the first rookie position player to win the award. Brady is a 43-year-old quarterback who won his fifth MVP (and seventh ring). But the MVP here is Hedman, who is still at the top of his game.

Front Office Worker of the Year

Candidates:

Julien BrisBois, Lightning

Erik neander, Rays

Jason Licht, Bucs.

Neander, in his position, has to beat higher-paying rosters almost every night. That's his job. He has to make you forget about the finances, which I a skill in itself. BrisBois made the Bolts grittier at the trade deadline, which was no small deal.

But the nod here goes to Licht, who entered the season embattled but reinvented the Bucs with the additions of Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Leonard Fournette, Antonio Brown and Ryan Succop. Those were the guys who scored in the win over the Chiefs.

Coach of the Year

Candidates:

Jon Cooper, Lightning.

Kevin Cash, Rays

Bruce Arians, Lightning.

It's hard to win anytime. Cash gets credit for being the AL Manager of the Year, as steamed as some people might e for his Game Six decision to pull Blake Snell. Cooper and Arians should have been the coaches of the year. Heck, who had better seasons in their sports.

Here, I'm going with Arians, who convinced his team it could upset the Saints, Packers and Chiefs in a row.

Could Have Won the MVP

Candidates:

  1. Brayden Point, Lightning.

2. Mike Brosseau, Rays.

3. Devin White, Bucs.

Point had a splendid playoffs. When the Lightning really, really needed a goal, the puck seemed to be on his stick. Brosseau isn't a regular, but his home run beat the team's biggest rival, the Yankees, in its most thrilling win. White tackled everything in the playoffs.

The choice? It's Point.

Rookie of the Year

Candidates

Carter Verhaege, Lightning

Randy Arozarena, Rays

Tristan Wirfs, Bucs

The Lightning scarcely gave any time to rookies. Wirfs, on the other hand, was so solid he might have been his team's best lineman, not just its youngest.

The history-maker here, though, is Arozarena. If he isn't a star, it will be disappointing.

Fighting the Odds

Candidates

  1. Steven Stamkos, Lightning.

2. Charlie Morton, Rays.

3. Jason Pierre-Paul, Bucs.

The ageless Morton beat back Houston in their series. Pierre-Paul, after a fireworks mishap and a car accident, was very good in the playoffs.

But for one moment, the award belongs to Stamkos, whose inspiration lasted his team the rest of the post-season.

Unsung Hero Award

Candidates:

  1. Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning.

2. Willie Adames, Rays

3. Shaq Barrett, Bucs

The award goes to Vasilevskiy, the backbone of the Lightning.

Candidates

Good Guy Award

  1. Ryan McDonagh, Lightning

2. Kevin Kiermaier, Rays

3. Mike Evans, Bucs

All solid leaders for their teams. The award goes to Evans, who ran a lot of routes where he didn't get the ball and never complained. For a wide receiver, that's saying something.

The Longest Journeys

  1. Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

2. Nick Anderson, Rays

3. Lavonte David, Bucs

Kucherov has been a great player and waited for his trophy for seven. years. But the award goes to David, who has waited for his first playoff game for nine years.

Kings of the Road

1.Lightning played its playoff games in Toronto and Edmonton.

2. After their quick wild card win, the Rays played its post-season in San Diego and Arlington.

3. The Rays opened their post-season with games in Washington, in New Orleans and in Green Bay.

Winner: Your local travel bureau.

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