By Darian Somers
Several former Lightning managers, coaches and players, including ex-captain Dave Andreychuk, returned to Tampa to celebrate the 2004 Stanley Cup championship team on Monday night.
In that epic series, the Lightning and the Calgary Flames traded wins in the first four games. After returning to Tampa for Game 5, Oleg Saprykin lifted the Flames in overtime despite the Bolts tying the score with 37 seconds left. Game 6 would go down as one of the most memorable for Tampa Bay -- and painful for the Flames. Some Calgary fans, to this day, believe that Martin Gelinas scored in third period to give Calgary a lead. However, the NHL ruled the puck didn't cross the goal line despite a somewhat convincing ABC camera angle. Later on that night, Martin St. Louis forced Game 7 with a goal 37 seconds into double OT. In Game 7, Ruslan Fedtenko played the hero, scoring twice as the Bolts edged the Flames, 2-1.
The 2004 Cup remains the only one in franchise history, and Tampa has never been back to the final since. The closest the Bolts have come was in 2011 when they went seven games against Boston in the Eastern Conference Final. The Bruins went on to win the Cup that year over Vancouver. Tampa Bay has made only three postseason appearances since 2004, but could be on the verge of one this year.
Among those on hand for Monday night's celebration was Tampa's Cup-winning coach, John Tortorella, who returned as bench boss of the visiting Vancouver Canucks. He joined the on-ice festivities, celebrating with a raised fist, a smirk, and a hug for former GM Jay Feaster. But Torts' introduction wasn't the most awkward part of the get-together, as the video montage was mistakenly labelled with a June 7, 2014 date instead of 2004.
Adding to the awkwardness was the fact that no active players remain from that championship team. Marty St. Louis had been the last, but he was traded to New York at the March 5 deadline to play with 2004 Conn Smythe winner Brad Richards on the Rangers. The Cup-winning squad's captain, Vincent Lecavalier, was bought out during the offseason and he signed with Philadelphia. Pavel Kubina recently retired after a 15-year NHL career.