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Badgers in the NHL: Ryan McDonagh is a Stanley Cup champion!

McDonagh is the 15th former Wisconsin player to hoist the world’s coolest trophy.

2020 NHL Stanley Cup Final - Game Six Photo by Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images

Unless your team just lost in the finals I’d argue there is nothing more fun and wholesome in sports than watching a team celebrate with their hard-earned trophy. It is even more fun if a player that you’ve cheered for in the past gets to do the celebrating. Former Wisconsin Badgers men’s hockey captain Ryan McDonagh helped the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup on Monday evening, beating the Dallas Stars 2-0.

McDonagh became the fifteenth former Badger to have his name etched on to Lord Stanley’s Cup, and the first since Justin Schultz won back to back cups with the loathsome Pittsburgh Penguins in 2016 and 2017. One fun fact I learned from Todd Milewski’s article at the State Journal was that Chris Chelios won a Stanley Cup in 1986 and then won his third in 2008! What an amazing career he had.

The Lightning beat the Stars, who were led by former Badger Joe Pavelski, 4-2 and exorcised last season’s demons when they were the top-seed, and President’s Cup winners, in the East and were ignominiously swept out of the playoffs in the first round by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

McDonagh, a St. Paul, Minn. native, had one goal (a game winner) and four assists over 22 playoff games for Tampa and was a steady veteran presence on the blue line for the Lightning.

While it is surely no consolation for Pavelski yet, he did become the all-time leading scorer for American-born players in the playoffs during Game 5. After leaving the San Jose Sharks this past offseason, Pavelski was deciding between two finalists: Dallas...and Tampa Bay.