This Chicagoan’s astronaut will get into Tampa game

SHARE This Chicagoan’s astronaut will get into Tampa game
An astronaut taunts Montreal’s goalie in Tampa. | AP

An astronaut taunts Montreal’s goalie in Tampa. | AP

By now you have probably heard all about the Tampa Bay Lightning’s restrictions on Blackhawks fans at the Amalie Arena for the Stanley Cup Final. You need a certain zip code, and you can’t wear this and that and …

Well, here’s one Chicagoan that will have no problem getting into Stanley Cup Final games in Tampa … along with his ‘astronaut!’ That’s right. And, while the apparel is definitely out of the ordinary, Lightning officials will not be demanding a wardrobe change.

Ben Malek, the man behind the astronaut at Lightning games, is actually a transplanted Chicagoan, who opened an electronics company in Tampa about a decade ago.

In February Malek, a Lightning season-ticket holder and arena advertiser, decided to market his company, Malektronic, by employing the astronaut at the Lightning game. (Several of his employees take turns wearing the uncomfortably hot costume during games.)

I asked if the astronaut could show up at one game. The Lightning partnership people thought it was great but the building and security people were concerned. I had to bring someone wearing the suit to the arena the day before so they could see how it would look. They didn’t know what to expect. —Malek told WUSF

The idea turned genius in the second round of the NHL Playoffs when the astronaut taunted Montreal goalie Carey Price, and the scene went viral across North America.

Malek’s astronaut was even celebrated on ESPN SportsCenter.

astrosportscenter.gif

Despite his Chicago ties, Malek has become a Lightning fan. When asked by Redeye who he thought would win, he said:

I personally think most fans out there are going to understimate the Lightning. I want to say that Tampa will win in six. If we look at the teams that Tampa played in the playoffs this year, the regular-season records don’t really matter because we swept Montreal, we swept New York … I think we lost to Detroit only one game … and as you saw, all those series still went really far. Chicago has a great offense, they have a great defense. The only area I think I can be stronger in is the goalie. Tampa has a good goalie, a good offense; the only area of weakness for us is defense. So I think we match up pretty well and I think it’s going to be an exciting series no matter what. If [the Final] stretches to 7, even as a season ticket holder I’ll be happy to see that too. Ultimately I want Tampa to win.

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