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The Stanley Cup

May 26, 2004

Right at five o'clock yesterday afternoon, my friend Bill Cunningham called me saying he was in the neighborhood and that he wanted to hang out. Perfect timing it seemed like to me, since the Lightning/Flames Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Finals was slated for that evening.

I had work to finish up, but after about 45 minutes Bill followed me over to Ybor. From there we hopped on the trolley that connects Ybor City with Channelside. It's not the speediest mode of transportation, but it beats paying obscene amounts of money for parking. Plus, I knew I could drink without worry (within reason of course, since it was a work night and all).

Rick Derringer
Rick Derringer performed outside the St. Pete Times Forum before the game.

When Bill and I arrived, we rode to the final stop. In an interesting and somewhat unsettling scene, a security guard boarded the trolley on the stop before last and did what appeared to be a quick visual check for bombs. At a major international event, I suppose it doesn't hurt to be too careful.

We crossed from the back of the St. Pete Times Forum (where the trolley stop is located), past a bevy of satellite trucks and media vehicles, and made our way into the pre-game party area. It was packed with people, many of whom were (not surprisingly) decked out in Lightning attire. I noticed that a large stage was set up (complete with Budweiser "True Music Series" logos everywhere). A few moments later, the performing act, Rick Derringer, returned to the stage for an "encore" performance. Apparently Bill and I missed the main set.

Now you might not know who Derringer is, but I do. At the age of 17, his band (The McCoys) put out the song "Hang On Sloopy" that went all the way to #1. The song that "Hang On Sloopy" knocked out of the top spot was "Yesterday" by The Beatles. Not too shabby. Derringer is probably best known for the song "Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo", though 1980s WWF fans will recognize his work on the theme songs for the likes of Hulk Hogan and Demolition.

Anyway, after the one song encore, Bill and I made our way through the crowd. The hot ass was out in full effect. Tampa has some gorgeous women, no doubt, but outside of sporting events you don't normally see this many hot chicks roaming around. Good times on that.

I snapped a picture of the banner shown above, which hung from one of the railings at the Forum. They didn't have an insane amount of Flames vs. Lightning stuff set up, but then again their turnaround time for this was rather limited. I will say that the setup outside was nice for fans like Bill and I who didn't have tickets but who wanted to take part in the fun.

Hot blondes dig Bill
Bill posed for a picture with a cute blonde Lightning fan.

As the start of the game approached, Bill and I made our way over to Newk's (the same place where Scott Massey and I watched the Flyers/Lightning game on Saturday night). Along the way I stopped to shout some rude things to some Flames fans who were being videotaped by Canada's CBC Television. Though I will admit, it takes moxie (and cash) to fly from freaking Calgary down to Tampa on short notice to go see the Stanley Cup Finals. But still, you come onto our turf, you will be heckled.

On the front side of the Forum, Bill and I spotted this hot blonde who was being videotaped by some random camera crew. I snapped a picture of her, but then she said if we were going to take a picture, one of us should be in it with her. I decided to let Bill do the honors... Did I mention how many nice perks there are to living in Tampa? Anyway, as I referenced before, there were plenty of beautiful women outside the arena, and that was allllright by me. And Bill too, for that matter.

Over at Newk's things weren't nearly as crowded as they had been on Saturday night. Bill and I managed to get a table with a view of the game (on ESPN), and between that, the Killian's Red, and the friendly and rather attractive waitress (named "Taffy", if you believe the name on the receipt), it was a good time. The fact that the Lightning lost 4-1 sucks, but it is a seven game series. Hopefully the Bolts can tie it up tomorrow night...

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