Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Tampa Bay Lightning
|Tampa Bay Lightning|
|Home ice||St. Pete Times Forum|
|Colours||Black, white, silver, blue.|
|League||National Hockey League|
|Head coach||John Tortorella|
|General manager||Jay Feaster|
- Founded: 1992-1993 (awarded December 20, 1991)
- Arena: St. Pete Times Forum (formerly known as Ice Palace)
- Uniform colors: Black, White, Blue, and Silver
- Logo design: A circle pierced by a lightning bolt with the inscription "Tampa Bay LIGHTNING"
- Stanley Cup wins: 1 - 2004
When Tampa was awarded an NHL franchise in 1991, the team's management brought in star power before they had any players. They hired 1970s Boston Bruins star Phil Esposito (Lightning founder) to be the General Manager, and Terry Crisp, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers when they won two Stanley Cups in the mid-1970s, and coached the Calgary Flames to a Stanley Cup in 1989, to sit behind the bench.
The Lightning first took the ice on October 7, 1992, shocking the visiting Chicago Blackhawks 7-3 with four goals by little-known Chris Kontos . The Lightning shot to the top of the Norris Division within a month before faltering to finish in last place. Their 53 points in 1992-1993, however, is one of the best showings ever by an NHL expansion team, and Brian Bradley's 42 goals gave Tampa fans optimism for the next season.
After faltering in 1994-1995 , the second biggest season in team history came in 1996, when, with Bradley still leading the team in scoring, second-year Alexander Selivanov scoring 31 goals, and Roman Hamrlik (the team's first-ever draft choice in 1992) having an all-star year on defense, they made the playoffs for the first time. Although they lost the first-round series to the Flyers, it still remains a magical season for Lightning fans (and the attendance of 28,183 on April 23 was the most for any NHL game until a game played outdoors in 2003).
The Lightning picked up sniper Dino Ciccarelli from the Detroit Red Wings that off-season, and he would not disappoint, scoring 35 goals (in addition to 30 from Chris Gratton ). The Lightning looked destined for another playoff spot until Puppa and Bradley were injured and center John Cullen came down with cancer. Cullen survived, but the Lightning would barely miss the playoffs in 1997.
Most of the Lightning's stars from those first few seasons would leave the team in 1997, and most of the young guns they picked up would fail to materialize. The Lightning would go into a funk that they would not get out of for several years. They won 17 (of 82) games in 1997-1998, and 19 each in 1998-1999 and 1999-2000.
By 2003 the Lightning, led by the goaltending of Nikolai Khabibulin and the bi-line efforts of Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier and Vaclav Prospal found themselves atop the Southeast Division and in the playoffs for the first time in seven years. Coming back from a two-game deficit, they beat the Washington Capitals in a six-game series, with St. Louis scoring the series-winner in triple overtime. The Lightning could not hold their own against their second-round opponent, the New Jersey Devils, however, losing that series in five games. Nikolai Khabibulin had a 3.0 GAA in that Series before being pulled in Game 5 in favor of John Grahame.
After their breakout season in 2003, the Tampa Bay Lightning finished the 2003-2004 season atop the Eastern Conference standings with a franchise record 106 points. In the first round of the playoffs, as the top seed, the Lightning ousted the New York Islanders, a team many picked to upset the Eastern Conference winners, as the Islanders had given the Lightning much trouble in the past. However, this was not to be so, and with solid play from goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, the Lightning went on to win the series by a convincing 4-1 margin. In the second round, the Lightning faced the Montreal Canadiens, the most successful NHL team ever. However, with quality play from both Vincent Lecavalier and once again, Nikolai Khabibulin, the Lightning were able to easily defeat the Canadiens in 4 straight games. They faced the Philadelphia Flyers in the Eastern Conference finals, winning in a back-and-forth seven-game series in which neither team was able to win consecutive games and earning them their first spot in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals. There they defeated the Calgary Flames 4 games to 3 to win their first Stanley Cup on June 7, 2004. Brad Richards, who had 26 points, won the Conn Smythe Trophy.
Players of note
- Dave Andreychuk - Captain of the 2003-2004 Lightning
- Nikolai Khabibulin - Known as "The Bulin Wall"
- Pavel Kubina
- Vincent Lecavalier - 1998 First Round Draft Pick (first overall)
- Brad Richards - 2004 Conn Smythe Winner (Playoff MVP), Lady Bing Trophy Finalist
- Martin St. Louis - Diminutive goal scorer, 2004 Hart Trophy (MVP) Finalist, Lady Byng Trophy Finalist
Not to be forgotten:
- 99 Wayne Gretzky (retired league-wide by the NHL)
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