Who will Cubs manager Joe Maddon be rooting for when the hockey teams from his former and current city face off in the Stanley Cup Final?
“I hate to say may the best team win,” Maddon smiled, “but I’m going to say may the best team win.”
Maddon spent nine years managing the Tampa Bay Rays, during which he got to know several members of the Tampa Bay Lightning, who the Blackhawks will face in the Stanley Cup Final beginning Wednesday night. Maddon said he’s close with Lightning coach Jon Cooper and welcomed players like Steven Stamkos and Martin St. Louis (when the latter was still in Tampa) to Tropicana Field.
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Cooper and his wife recently dined at Ava, the Italian restaurant Maddon co-owns in Tampa. So the first-year Cubs skipper isn’t quite ready to ditch his support of the Lightning just yet.
But since moving to Chicago, Maddon said he’s started to pull for the Blackhawks. The entire Cubs team donned red Blackhawks jerseys for a photo op at Wrigley Field before Saturday’s rained out game against Kansas City — and because the game was rained out, Maddon was able to watch the Blackhawks beat Anaheim in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
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“I’m becoming the Blackhawks fan, as I should be,” Maddon said. “I do have some roots back there in Tampa, I know coach Cooper really well, he’s a really good guy. I’ve not met coach (Joel) Quenneville yet. But I’m really excited about watching the whole thing, I think it’s going to be a powerful series.
“… I watched the game last night, pretty incredible victory and you could see how they did break the will of the other team with the things we’re talking about here. That was my takeaway, the way the game began where the Ducks had a chance to do something, they did not and here come the Blackhawks. It was pretty interesting to watch. And then to finish it out the way they did. I think if you’re a hockey fan you gotta be into this thing.”