TAMPA — When José Gaspar invades Tampa this year, the legendary pirate will have an unlikely ally — Lord Stanley of Preston.
Every year, the pirate ship José Gasparilla docks at the Tampa Convention Center to kick off the annual Gasparilla Parade of Pirates. But when the pirates invade the city on Jan. 27, the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup championship trophy will be aboard the 147-foot pirate ship.
It’s all part of merging the NHL All-Star Game and its festivities and Tampa’s signature event into one extraordinarily busy weekend.
"We don’t want to infringe on their event and they don’t want to infringe on ours," said the NHL executive vice president Steve Mayer. "Yet we want to complement each other."
The NHL executives joining the 125-year-old Stanley Cup — the trophy is a little over 35 inches tall and weighs nearly 35 pounds — will also be dressed for the occasion aboard the pirate ship.
"We can’t go on the José Gaspar without dressing up as pirates," Mayer said.
But as for the cup holding any pirate’s grog, don’t count on it, he said with a laugh: "We have to control the environment just a little."
Contact Paul Guzzo at [email protected] Follow @PGuzzoTimes.