Stanley Cup fever is spreading over Capitol Hill.
Florida U.S. Reps. Dennis Ross, David Jolly and Gus Bilirakis – each representing a district chock-full of Tampa Bay Lightning fans – made some friendly home state wagers with their Illinois counterparts Randy Hultgren, Mike Quigley, Danny Davis and Rodney Davis.
The Lightning face the Chicago Blackhawks in a best-of-seven series for the National Hockey League (NHL) championship. Finalizing the bet between lawmakers was a “puck drop” by House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi.
Other than bragging rights, the stakes of the bets include a variety of home state goodies.
“The only thing sweeter than my wager of Florida’s fresh squeezed orange juice and Ybor City cigars will be the massive victory parade and celebration back home when the Tampa Bay Lightning win the Stanley Cup,” Ross, a Lakeland Republican, said in a statement.
“As the song goes, ‘if you don’t believe me, just watch!” he added.
“We have the best beaches in the world and soon we’ll have the Stanley Cup too,” said Jolly, the Republican from Madeira Beach. “I’m offering up tasty grouper sandwiches in our bet with the Illinois congressional delegation, but the reality is we’ll be dining on Chicago deep dish pizza in just a few days.
“And don’t worry Blackhawks fans about not getting seats at Amalie Arena, we’re sparing you the agony of watching another electrifying Lightning win. Go Bolts!”
Hultgren, a Republican from the Chicago suburb of Winfield, boasted that the Blackhawks are on the verge of dominating the NHL by winning three Stanley Cups in six years.
“In a friendly wager,” he said, “I’m willing to offer up Portillo’s Italian Beef and Graham’s Chocolate in full confidence our Hawks will emerge victorious over Tampa Bay. May the best team win. Go Hawks!”
Tarpon Springs Republican Bilirakis said he is confident his home team will win in six games.
“So much so, that I will wager authentic Tarpon Springs Sponges and baklava,” he said. “I am looking forward to celebrating the Bolts’ victory by sinking my teeth into a juicy sandwich from Portillo’s.”
“I’m looking forward to an exciting Stanley Cup Final series,” said Quigley, a Chicago Democrat. “Tampa Bay has a great team, and we Chicagoans respect the proud tradition of the Lightning being one of the NHL’s original 30. But I’m calling the Hawks in 6 and looking forward to eating a delicious grouper sandwich from Congressman Jolly when it happens.”
Davis, a Republican representing parts of Central Illinois, noted that the last time the Tampa Bay Lightning won the Stanley Cup, the iPhone hadn’t been invented yet.
“As part of a friendly wager with my colleagues from Florida,” he said. “I’m offering up some Del’s Popcorn from Decatur, IL. Looking forward to a great series and some delicious Sunshine-state products. Go Hawks!”
On Wednesday, the Blackhawks won the first game of the series by defeating the Lightning 1-0. Game 2 is on Saturday.