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All-Time Tampa Bay Lightning Team


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I haven't been able to work on this series as consistently as I'd like, but I'm back with the next installment. This time, we take a look at the Tampa Bay Lightning. As you might expect from a relatively recent entry into the league, there are some positions where they lack depth, but there are others that would make some teams jealous. On to the list to see where the Lightning fall!


First Line: Ondrej Palat, Steve Stamkos, Martin St. Louis
Second Line: Cory Stillman, Vincent Lecavalier, Teddy Purcell
Third Line: Fredrik Modin, Brad Richards, Alex Selivanov
Fourth Line: Dave Andreychuk, Vinny Prospal, Steve Downie
First Defensive Pair: Dan Boyle, Victor Hedman
Second Defensive Pair: Roman Hamrlik, Pavel Kubina
Third Defensive Pair: Paul Ranger, Shawn Chambers
Goaltenders: Ben Bishop, Nikolai Khabibulin, Daren Puppa
Head Coach: John Tortorella
The wings definitely lack depth, but the center position is quite strong. On the left side, Palat and Stillman get the nod despite their short tenures with the team. Palat has already established himself as a force, and Stillman's 80 point season greatly stands out. Andreychuk's stats with the Lightning aren't really enough to get him on the list alone, but when his contribution to the team in leadership is considered, he earns the spot. On defense, the top four is stout, and who wouldn't like to have those top two goalies?
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Nice @ScottM

But of course, as a hardcore Bolts fan since their 2nd year of existence, I will have some minor adjustments of my own, but so you know, you did a pretty good job and you are right....since the team is still relatively young (and has had MANY years of being NHL doormats), certain positions DO lack depth.

I will work backwards from the way you posted (I.E. from head coach to forwards) and because I tend to be long winded (just call me Hurricane Sandy...haha), I will break my post down in two parts....first talking about the head coaches and goalies, then I will follow up later on talking about the D-men and Forwards.

Ok, here I go:

First off, no question about John Tortorella. Not only does he have the distinction of being the coach when the Bolts won their 1st and only Cup, but he was the first coach to actually apply a real layer of accountability AND draw media attention (for better or worse) to the Tampa Bay Lightning as a serious NHL team.

There is some lore around the TB area that says when Vincent Lecavalier first came up, that he was a bit of a prima donna and really didn't care for Coach Torterella's 'hardarse' style, that he actually went to the GM at the time, Jay Feaster to complain about the coach and there was even whispers of VLC alluding to "either get rid of him or trade me" type talk.......and the GM told him (I am paraphrasing of course) "He is your coach, your still new to the NHL, you two are stuck with each other...both of you need to deal with it, work things out...NEITHER of you is going anywhere".

That, combined with veterans brought in such as Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor who demanded each man pull their own weight, forced VLC to grow up quickly and soon thereafter, the rest of the young squad fell in behind the leadership of those two players and the demand that Torts put on everyone.

It obviously was a recipe for success as the TB Lightning for the first time in their existence, could be considered "favorites" in many match ups, had good runs for a few seasons, and of course, the Cup win was the high point.

I will give a mention to the Bolts' very first head coach, Terry Crisp.

"Crispy" as I remember he was referred to way back, always seemed to be able to take any rag tag sort of group of players, band them together into something that resembled actual cohesion.

Terry Crisp dealt with much of the early days doldrums and he always had to make due with whatever players the Bolts could garner for other teams' left over piles or from the NHL scrap heaps straight up.

The finest example of a team that had no business being in the playoffs, yet made it in, were the 1995 Lightning who met the Legion of Doom lead Flyers in Round 1 of that playoff year.

Rag tag group down to the man against the stars of the Philadelphia Flyers.....and while the Bolts did lose, they managed at one point to grab a 2-1 series lead before ultimately falling 4-2 in the series.

And Terry Crisp's "We don't care who they are attitude" pushing that bunch all the way.

Any other coaches the Bolts have had ranged from just flash in the pan (Guy Boucher), blowhard with promises he couldn't back up (or wasn't allowed to back up...I.E. Jacque Demers), to just plain sad (*cough, Barry Melrose...cough).

So yea, top spot goes to The Fonz (Heyyyy!), with Terry Crisp coming in a respectable 2nd.

My hope is that one day, Coach Jon Cooper with his current core moving forward for the next several years can duplicate a bit of what the Blackhawks or Red Wings had done and be in a position to challenge and even overtake Torts as the top bench boss to date.


Can't come up with a better three than the ones chosen.

You pretty much got this one spot on, Scott.

Tampa Bay has had a history of having a carousel in net for many years.

The three guys you mentioned have been stablizing forces to say the least during their time.

Interestingly, the three guys you mentioned just happen to be the best three of their respective 'eras' of Lightning history.

Darren Puppa was definitely "The Man" during the early, aforementioned rag tag group days under Terry Crisp.

He was a Toronto Maple Leaf reject (yes, I know, today it seems absurd for the Leafs to reject ANYONE....lol...but back then, the Leafs actually had Cup aspirations!)....and back problems that plagued throughout his career were ultimately his downfall...and what kept him from really having a chance to string together any sort of history making seasons for his team.

Who knows...had Puppa not been injury plagued, maybe the rag tag Bolts would have made life miserable for several other teams in the post season during their time.

When Puppa was on, he was ON. His moniker amongst his teammates was Godzilla (he even had the big rubber monster painted on his mask), because when he played large, he ate up everything you threw at him.

Nikolai Khabibulin, was, of course, the goalie during the Bolts next phase after the rag tag era. This was the era that would ultimately become the Cup winning era, led by Coach Torterella.

Khabibulin was arguably the most gifted, pure talent goalie the Bolts have ever had...even more-so than Ben Bishop today.

He was oftern referred to as 'World Class' and really was the type of goalie that could stand on his head and steal games for the Lightning. No other goalie the Bolts have had before and since can really boast that.

Of course, the "Bulin Wall" could also be subject to just as deep chasms of failure, as it seems, if you could get under his skin a bit, you could get him to play badly and it would just snowball from there.

But overall, the Bolts DON'T win the Cup in '04 without this guy backstopping them....even if he DID get benched by Iron Hand Fonzie in favor of John Grahame on occasion! ;)

Then we have today's version of "The Man" in goal, Ben Bishop, who rose from the pile of goalies the Bolts were trying the last few seasons, to become the guy they lean on today.

He still has much to prove as an all time franchise leader at his position, but I'd say, no matter how good the forward units of this team are today, without Ben Bishop, the Bolts would likely still be floundering around trying to eek their way into the playoffs.

I will give a couple mentions to some other goalies who, even if for just a blip in time, helped carry the Lightning or just had nice streaks for the team.

Dwayne Roloson and Mathieu Garon.

They were the duo responsible for stopping pucks before Ben Bishop came on the scene and I think EVERYONE remembers the Bolts' improbable run to the Eastern Finals (and were one win away from winning that too) against the eventual Cup Champion Boston Bruins in 2011.

Of course, the following year, the wheels fell completely off Roloson and career backup Mathieu Garon was given the job, and he did a fine enough job, but he simply was exposed playing so many games when he wasn't a true NHL starter.

Garon gave heart n soul, played BRILLIANTLY some games, but looked equally overmatched in way too many others.

Kevin Weekes and Rick Tabaracci.

Two journeymen types as well (although Weekes proved himself worthy at least on that one season while he was with the Carolina Hurricanes), who stabilized the goalie position for short stretches during their time in TB.

Tabaracci, I understand, was an unusually vocal locker room leader (unusual because goalies usually aren't) and he was known to 'light a fire' under players before games or between periods.

Who pushes aside Bishop, Khabibulin, and/or Puppa moving forward at the goalie position?

Maybe Andrej Vasilevskiy...maybe Adam Wilcox...maybe Kristers Gudlevskis....maybe a guy the Bolts don't have yet.

That is yet to be written.

But as of today, your three picked goalies are the best three all time for the Lightning.


Will come back with my forwards and D-men take...I do have slightly differing opinions on some of the guys mentioned, and some that should be in there, IMO.

The rest of you can blame Scott for getting me started! :lol:

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@TropicalFruitGirl26 I never expect that anyone will agree with one of these lists completely. I suspected we'd probably have a few differences. I'll be interested to see your thoughts on the defensemen. I thought the top four were pretty strong, but the last pair wasn't clear cut at all. Give it a year or two and I think Stralman will be an obvious inclusion. He just needs to have more than a single season. Stillman making it with so short a tenure is an exception because of how strong that one season was. Anyway, More conversation to come, I'm sure.

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  • 2 weeks later...



Sorry for the long delay...but between stuff going on around the home and the fact I wanted to do some research (so as not to be clouded by nostalgia and/or bias of any sort..hehe), it took this long to really look at the defensemen and forwards that have played for this team over the years and for me to come up with either agreements or alterations to your list.


So, without further ado, here we go....like before, working backwards from the way you listed yours, I continue on with the defensemen:


Your top four Boyle, Hedman, Hamrlik, and Kubina are simply unassailable.

Defense, over the years for this team, has been an issue, so really, the pickings overall simply aren't that deep....but those four are without a doubt quality players who not only spent quite a bit of time helping the Lightning when they played (two are Cup winners and one is a EC Champ), but also, helped OTHER teams after they left the Bolts.


And that is important, because as a rule, TB Lightning defensemen have not been particularly useful to other teams once their stints with the Bolts have ended.

Obviously, Victor Hedman is still with the team and even in his short tenure (and due to the overall lack of depth all time on D), he ranks pretty high.


But others such as Dan Boyle (Sharks), Pavel Kubina ( Thrashers, Maple Leafs), and Hamrlik (Isles, Oilers, Capitals) have gone on to be integral parts of the teams in parentheses after leaving the Bolts.


As for the bottom two.....hmmm.

Paul Ranger.

An enigma. Definitely talented, but IMO, did not spend enough time with the team to really flesh out his abilities at the NHL level. Then there was the mysterious personal reasons why he left the sport entirely, only to return and find the sport pretty much passed him by.


Shawn Chambers.

Back when he played with the Bolts, he was a good example of an offensive defensemen type NOT named Coffey, Leetch, Bourque, Blake, or Niedermeyer in a time where there was much clutching/grabbing, and large freight train D-men where the preferred standard.


I am NOT putting Chambers in the same class as those guys, but simply mentioned them to show that he exhibited some of their traits in a "Lite" sort of fashion for TB while he played there and can see why you'd include him.

However, only three seasons and 170 or so games played with the team doesn't quite do it for me.

To me, he was the very definition of 'journeyman' as he played for quite a few teams for short periods of time each.


No.....I would actually go as the bottom pair with two guys who fit the bill of 'freight train' defenders who seemed to be the rage at the time they played.

Jassen Cullimore and Cory Sarich.


Neither of those two will ever be confused with anything resembling good offensive defensemen, but both could skate well, they played their positions pretty well, both spent much time with the Lightning (7 seasons, 408 games for Cullimore....7 seasons, 490 games for Sarich), and BOTH were integral parts in the Bolts Stanley Cup win in 2004.


The additions of guys like Daryl Sydor and Brad Lukowich to help the Bolts win their Cup were definitely key, but the continued service and foot soldiering before and after those two guys that Cullimore and Sarich continued to provide simply cannot be discounted.


Jassen and Cory really didn't care who they were matched against....top line or 4th line....they always gave everything they had...Cullimore actually had a bit of a sneaky offensive touch to his game for a man his size, while Sarich was simply a pillar on defense game in, game out...and BOTH didn't care if your name was Gretzky, Lemieux (ANY Lemieux...heh), or Kartcheskov and Ziggler....or anything in between.........if you skated unawares into the TB zone, and they got the chance, they would put you on your arse.


Sarich more-so in particular....and he often raised the ire of the other teams because he actually DARED to plaster the likes of their star players at any given moment.


So, in closing with the defensemen, I like your top four, but would replace Ranger and Chambers with Cullimore and Sarich for the reasons stated.


Forwards...coming up..... :)

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