Brandon resident Rob Kennedy’s name is etched on the most famous trophy in sports, the Stanley Cup. The assistant equipment manager for the Tampa Bay Lightning was a part of the 2020 championship team.
Kennedy has been with the club for 13 years, after previously working for several minor league teams as well as the Florida Panthers. He got started with hockey when he was in college in Chicago, mainly because it was the only job available near his school.
It’s customary that each player and member of the staff of the winning team gets to spend a day with the Stanley Cup trophy in the off-season. Kennedy wanted to share the experience with his community and the people closest to him.
The day started with Kennedy bringing the Cup to his parents’ house in Cape Coral. His father has been sick and Kennedy didn’t want him exposed to other people in the midst of the pandemic.
The Beer Shed in Riverview was the next stop, where they stayed for about an hour, and they later ended up at Bullfrog Creek Brewing Co. in Valrico from 3-6 p.m. Kennedy and his family built a special bond with the Bullfrog Creek owner and staff after frequenting the bar and eating at the food trucks outside.
He then brought the Cup next door to the Heroes Only Barber Shop, where he gets his hair cut. After the festivities, they went back to his house to have a party with his friends and family to end the night.
Kennedy’s job was particularly difficult this season with the NHL playing its playoff games in a bubble in Canada after a four-month break during the regular season. The Lightning started in Toronto and later traveled to Edmonton for the last two rounds. He spent about two months away from his family during the championship run.
Kennedy and his staff had to do a lot of planning, making sure the players had everything they needed. Jerseys, sticks, skates, gloves and helmets, among other things, had to be packed up on the plane to travel. Kennedy said that they still aren’t completely unpacked after the trip.
Kennedy’s dream of winning the Stanley Cup came true when the Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in six games.
“All the hard work finally paid off, not just the work we put in this year, but the long work we put in throughout our careers,” said Kennedy. “I don’t think people know how hard it is to win a championship at any level, let alone the greatest trophy ever.”