One of the NHL's first Sun Belt franchises, the Lightning played their first season in 1992-93 and rose to win the Stanley Cup in 2004. Here are 10 of the most iconic figures in the team's often colorful history.
June 03, 2015
1 of 10Bruce Bennett Studios/Getty Images
Brian Bradley (1992-97)
The journeyman center became one of the Lightning’s first true stars when he scored 42 goals and 86 points and earned an All-Star nod during their first season in the league (1992-93). Though injuries prevented him from coming close to those career highs during his ensuing five seasons with Tampa Bay, he remained an assistant captain and retired in 1998 as the franchise leader in goals (111), assists (189) and points (300).
2 of 10Joe Patronite/Getty Images
Terry Crisp (1992-97)
The Lightning’s first coach came to Tampa from Calgary where he won the Stanley Cup in 1989. The volatile Crisp, who guided the expansion Bolts to a 23-54-7 mark in their first season and an overall 142-204-45 during his five-plus campaigns behind their bench, was known for blunt assessments such as this one after a 10-0 loss: “The only difference between this and Custer’s Last Stand was that Custer didn’t have to look at the tape afterwards.”
3 of 10Jim McIsaac/Getty Images
Daren Puppa (1993-99)
The popular goalie’s name inspired fans to chant “Poo-Pah!” and bestow it on more than a few pooches in Florida’s Hillsborough County during his seven seasons in Tampa Bay’s net. In 1996, he backstopped the Bolts to their first playoff berth and heroically played with a back injury that continued to dog him during the remainder of his time with the team.
4 of 10Fred Vuich for Sports Illustrated
Vincent Lecavalier (1998-2013)
He never quite lived up to the hype as “the Michael Jordan of hockey” as promised by the team's former owner, Art Williams, but Lecavalier became a local icon just the same. The first pick in the 1998 draft, Lecavalier at his best recalled the elegance of Jean Beliveau, the Canadiens great he later played in a TV movie. Tampa Bay's first 50-goal scorer, he went on to set franchise records with 1,037 games, 383 goals, 112 power play goals and 60 game winners. He also famously engaged in a fight with Flames captain Jarome Iginla in Game 3 of 2004 Stanley Cup finals.
5 of 10Lou Capozzola for Sports Illustrated
Martin St. Louis (2000-14)
Despite an ugly parting of the ways in 2014, the diminutive St. Louis will always be admired as one of the all-time great Lightning. The two-time NHL scoring champion (2004, 2013) ranks as Tampa's all-time leader in assists (588) and points (953) and the team's only winner of the Hart Trophy as league MVP (2004). He scored what may have been the most important goal in franchise history on June 5, 2004 burying the 2-OT winner in Game 6 of the Stanley Cup finals that moved the Bolts into the decisive seventh game, which they won.
6 of 10Ryan Remiorz/AP
Brad Richards (2000-08)
The slick playmaking pivot often got second billing behind Vincent Lecavalier, but when the Lightning lifted the Cup in 2004 it was Richards who skated off with the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP. He scored 12 goals and 26 points to lead the Bolts that spring, including a pair in Tampa's 3-2 win over Calgary in Game 6 of the finals. Though he spent just seven seasons with the Lightning, he ranks top-five on the franchise list for goals (150), assists (339) and points (489).
7 of 10Jeff Gross/Getty Images
John Tortorella (2000-08)
The fiery Tortorella was the Bolts’ bench boss for seven years, compiling a 239-222-36-38 mark with four playoff berths and leading the team to its first Stanley Cup in 2004. "This was a country club, a retirement home. It was a place players came to retire, they just forgot to tell us they were doing it," GM Jay Feaster said. "John came in and changed the culture, changed the way we do business, and the attitude. And in so doing, he raised expectations.”
8 of 10David E. Klutho for Sports Illustrated
Nikolai Khabibulin (2001-04)
The Bulin Wall suited up for four franchises during his 18-season career, including two stints with the Blackhawks, but it was with the Lightning that he enjoyed his greatest success. Acquired from Phoenix ahead of the 2001 trade deadline, he spent four years in Tampa, making two All-Star Game appearances and backstopping the Bolts to the 2004 Stanley Cup. He posted five shutouts that spring, including a 29-save effort to lead Tampa to a 1-0 win over Calgary in Game 4 of the Cup finals.
9 of 10Brian Bahr/Getty Images
Ruslan Fedotenko (2002-07)
The Ukrainian winger spent only four seasons (2002-07) with the Bolts after being traded to Tampa Bay by Philadelphia but he earned his place in franchise lore by scoring a game-winner against Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference finals and the only goals in Tampa Bay’s 2-0 Game 7 win over Calgary in the 2004 Stanley Cup finals.
10 of 10Lou Capozzola for Sports Illustrated
Steven Stamkos (2008-)
One of the league's elite snipers, Stamkos was the first pick in the 2008 NHL Draft. He's since topped the 50-goal mark twice, hitting 60 once, each time winning the Rocket Richard Trophy en route to three All-Star Game selections. Always working exceptionally hard to improve his all-around game, he took on the mantle of leadership as team captain at age 24 after the departure of Martin St. Louis.
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