Yesterday marked eight years since the Tampa Bay Lightning made history, defeating the Calgary Flames 2-1 in Game 7 to win their first ever Stanley Cup.
My memories of that day, though somewhat murky, still remain with me to this very day. For myself, as a brand new fan of the sport of hockey, I watched in awe that night and instantly realized the Lightning were meant to be my team to root for. I’m not a fair weather fan though; I can promise you that much!
Another thing I vividly remember is my dad taking me to Bay Walk, a dining and movie complex in downtown St. Petersburg, that summer to meet then Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk and get a photo touching Lord Stanley’s Cup. To this day I still have, and cherish, that photo and the player card Andreychuk signed for me.
Through the eight years since that wonderful memorable night fans have endured a lockout (2004-05), four straight years of missing the playoffs, a wonderful run to Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals last season and a year plagued with injuries and a tough start to the season, ultimately costing us a trip to the postseason. Through all of that, Lightning fans still believe they will see another championship, hopefully in the next few years.
Yesterday, I relived that magical night from eight years ago by watching my Stanley Cup DVD. As then Lightning alternate captain Tim Taylor said in Steve Yerrid’s book titled “Winning Ways: The Making of a Championship Heart, “We walk together forever now. We won the Stanley Cup, and our names will always be on it.”
I believe that quote from Taylor includes fans, even though our names aren’t on the Cup, because all of us have supported this team through both the good and tough times. That’s something I and many other Lightning fans, will continue to do for as long as we are Lightning hockey fans.