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Sports Then and Now



The Surprising Start of the Tampa Bay Lightning 3

Posted on November 20, 2013 by Martin Banks

When the Tampa Bay Lightning left the tepid waters of the old Southeast Division for the harsh seas of the new Atlantic, many pegged them to fail. The Southeast was frequently the weakest division in the NHL, and Tampa Bay hadn’t even finished first since their Stanley Cup winning season in 2004.

Stanley Cup Finals: Lightning v Flames

Naturally, the outlook was grim as they headed north to play with perennial powerhouses Boston, Montreal and Detroit, who had freshly arrived from the West. Add on the upstart Ottawa Senators and surging Toronto Maple Leafs and you’ve got a recipe for many more years of struggling.

To many, the window on Tampa’s postseason hopes was already closing. Struggling to find a suitable franchise goaltender had stifled much of the offensive power that the Bolts brought to the table, and the defense had been porous. GM Steve Yzerman replaced head coach Guy Boucher with Jon Cooper, a somewhat unexpected choice as he used to be a corporate lawyer. Yzerman also bought out captain Vincent Lecavlier’s contract and let him walk to Philadelphia, where he signed with the Flyers. It was looking like this would be the start of another rebuilding season, and maybe even more big names would be traded out of Tampa.

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  • Vintage Athlete of the Month

    • Rusty Staub: A Man For All Ages
      April 8, 2024 | 1:26 pm
      Rusty Staub

      The Sports Then and Now Vintage Athlete of the Month is a former major league baseball player who came into the game as a teenager and stayed until he was in his 40s. In between, Rusty Staub put up a solid career that was primarily spent on expansion or rebuilding teams.

      Originally signed by the Colt .45s at age 17, he made his major league debut as a 19-year old rookie and became only the second player in the modern era to play in more than 150 games as a teenager.

      Though he hit only .224 splitting time between first base and rightfield, Staub did start building a foundation that would turn him into an All-Star by 1967 when he finished fifth in the league with a .333 batting average.

      Read more »

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