Archive for the ‘Tampa Bay Lightning’ Category

Earliest Hockey Memories with NHL Shout

August 19, 2009
Logo by Gray from Couch Tarts

(Until recently, we haven’t been particularly aware of the Tampa Bay Lightning blogosophere [the Lightning-ogosphere? Bayogosophere? Lecavalierogosphere?], but it’s heartening to know that the team possesses plenty of great bloggers. One of those blogs is Lightning Shout, which sports a sweet logo and bitchin’ mission statement. Make sure to follow WB Philip’s work as the team starts to transition from “Saw” level horror show to respectability.)

My first hockey memory involves a game between the Boston Bruins (52-0) and the Detroit Red Wings (0-52) in the cold winter of 1970. This original six matchup was played in Detroit, Michigan at the Violet Street Hockey Arena. It featured a Bruins team that consisted of Phil Esposito, four Bobby Orr look-alikes, and an unmasked goalie, Gerry Cheevers. The Red Wings touted their daily lineup of the Howe’s: Mr. Hockey, Mark, Marty and an adopted son named Jim, my brother. All players were seen smiling constantly during the battle, despite their inability to skate in any direction but a straight line. The technology was way ahead of its time. The players wielded metal one-piece sticks and skated on a hybrid surface made of painted particleboard. The game was played without a referee or linesman in sight and at one point, was delayed due to the combatants losing the only puck available. (It had rolled all the way under the sofa) Both teams were very flat and had trouble hitting each other.

The Bruins led the whole way, riding centerman Phil Esposito’s 16 goals to a comfortable lead! The Howe’s led the team from Motown, with the family netting a total of 14 goals. It was late in the third period when the game was halted for a bathroom break. What happened when play resumed would haunt me for the rest of my life! At the drop of the puck, the Bruin goaltender, Gerry Cheevers, suffered what can only be termed, a catastrophic spot weld injury and tumbled slowly to the fake ice. The Philp house rules vehemently stated that, “Once a player comes loose from his metal post thing, he must be removed from play immediately and may not return or be replaced during that game…unless mom says so.”

Huh?

Those of you who are now part of the geriatric hockey set will recognize this scenario. Yes, the ice surface that comes in a box (assembly required)…Coleco tabletop hockey.

When you turned the rubber knob to strike the plastic, oversized puck (not the heavy one with the marble in it), you would here that unforgettable “TING” as the stick met the disk. All players had either sandy brown or jet-black colored hair and had that same psycho grin on their face. You know the look. It’s the one Matthew Barnaby used his entire career when he was agitating.

After Cheevers was yanked from the game, the Red Wings went on an offensive onslaught, scoring four goals in the last minute. The buzzer to end the game sounded in the familiar form that was my mom’s shriek, “Boys, put that god damned game away for a while!” It was over. Red Wings 18, Bruins 16.

December 24, 1970: A day that will live in infamy in the Philp household. I had shamed myself, the TTNHL (Tabletop National Hockey League), and most of all, the brotherhood of tabletop players…I had lost to my kid brother!!!!

As my brother paraded around the living room in his Heckle and Jeckle, footie pajamas (I hated those damn birds!) I found myself crying, but quietly happy for him. I had tasted victory so many times before that it had become a bland repast. Now I saw the hysterical glee on the face of my brother, whom I had destroyed 52 straight times before, and, for a brief moment, felt good.. I walked over to congratulate him on the victory and did what any good big brother would…I gave him a SUPER WEDGY!

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Raw Charge throws some free agent lighting bolts our way

July 1, 2009

Raw Charge is a great Tampa Bay lightning blog under the Sports Blog Nation umbrella. We hope you enjoy the thoughts of Cassie and John. Thanks you two!

1. Which player, for the love of God, do you NOT want to see in your team’s sweater in the 09-10 season?

Cassie: Chris Chelios. I like the guy – I really do – but he deserves so much better than what Tampa Bay can give him. Especially with ownership squabbles and money woes going on. Out of respect for a legendary player, please don’t sign Chelios! For his own sake, don’t even talk to him or his agent! Let him retire a Blackhawk – just like he should.

John: Chelios but for different reasons. Chris is one of those “traditional” players who thinks he is protecting the sancity of the game when he undermines hockey and it’s fans in the south. I respect what he’s accomplished in his career but he has publicly stated how much he hates the fact hockey went to regions “where it doesn’t belong”. That said, if he were chased or signed by Tampa, he’d be selling-out ideals as well as obviously desperate to stick around. No thanks.

2. Conversely, pick a potential move by another team that would just crush your soul/favorite team’s chances.

Cassie: The obvious – trading away Vinny Lecavalier. He is the franchise; he is the Tampa Bay Lightning. But they can’t keep him. The team’s been pretty clear about their financial situation. So it’s a damned if they do, and damned if they don’t. Keeping him means cutting salary elsewhere. Trading him means getting rid of 10 years of franchise history. Not to mention a goodly number of fans. Nothing good can come of this situation.

John: What Cassie says is true, but what I fear (with all the rumors swirling around about money) is a fire sale. I can see it now: Malone to… somewhere for a bag of pucks; St. Louis dealt to the Rangers for tickets to Elton John performing at Madison Square Garden (nosebleed seats, ugh!); Jeff Halpern traded to the Kings for gift certificates to California Pizza Kitchen… And Vinny to the Habs in return for Poutine and a condiment-to-be-named-later… That would kill me and the fan base in TB.

Raw Charge provides Tampa Bay Lightning draft perspective

June 11, 2009

Before we sink into the depths of what will surely be a painful night for either Joe or myself (or an unreal day for me/a solid night for Joe. I mean, seriously, is this even exciting for Red Wings fans anymore? Just kidding … kind of.), let’s keep this draft mojo going.

Continuing in sequence for now, at least, we’re taking a look at the past, present and future of Tampa Bay Lightning drafts with SBN Tampa Bay bloggers Raw Charge. Big thanks to the crew and follow Raw Charge for all your Bolts related wants and needs.

The Obvious Questions

1. Although it seems like the Islanders will choose Tavares in the draft, which player would YOU prefer to see in Tampa Bay and why?

RAW CHARGE: The hype says Tavares but the need, want, and the focus on the long term benefits as well as the short term say Hedman. The Lightning decimating their defense last off-season, entirely a self-inflicted disaster created our need to have at least one person who is a lock to stay put (possibly for a very long time) on the blue-line with skill to back it up.

It appears that Hedman is “wanted and needed” by a fair share of talented femme-bloggers.

2. Let’s say Tavares DOES fall to Tampa. What do you think the Lightning should do if that happened? Feel free to expand on this topic.

RAW CHARGE: You know, I just did a write up a few days ago given this unlikely scenario that Tavares does not get selected first overall and came up with three scenarios that could play out: Selecting John, trading the pick, or picking at #2 and leaving Tavares for someone else.

If the Lightning selected Tavares, they would certainly move Vincent Lecavalier as a result (you can’t really have three franchise-caliber centers at one time, can you? I’d love to see it but that is about as likely as another Star Wars movie — and one that doesn’t suck to boot) and that would really be the only scenario that would guarantee Lecavalier’s end in TB (right now everything is speculation but the writing has been on the wall for a while, that the Lightning are shopping him).

Trading the pick would have to result in a lump sum in return… And that gets very shaky with current ownership and management’s track record with trades… The assessments of players coming back are questionable at times, and at others it’s not clear if they want to rebuild or simply retool and what criteria fits the bill in a return deal…

Personally, I’d rather see John selected … It gives you a clue that the team is building for the future if not immediate contention …

3. It’s hard to believe “Seen Stamkos” was only a year ago. How do you feel about his progress so far? What’s his ceiling in the NHL?

RAW CHARGE: Progress? I thought he wasn’t ready for the NHL, I mean who can question the assessments of Barry Melrose? He was on TV! TV people know things better than the rest of us! It’s true! Seriously! Honest!

Snark aside, I just want to know what would have happened if he had played under Rick Tocchet the entire season instead of being held back by Melrose?

His ceiling is what he makes of it. Lecavalier had a slower rise, while Richards consistently improved his first few seasons.

Fun/historic questions

4. Describe some of your favorite Tampa Bay Lightning draft memories? Is there a pick that stands out as the best one they’ve made? What, if any, steals come to mind?

RAW CHARGE: I can’t really say I have a favorite draft memory for the Lightning. Part of it is the lack of coverage down here building up to the draft. The NFL draft, by comparison, is built up starting weeks beforehand. The NHL draft has gotten barely any coverage and you learn little about the prospects from the local dailies (besides the top pick who the Lightning may have their eyes on).

Others might be able to identify a specific positive memory from the draft, for me they all seem to mix together too much in nothingness: A selection, the big hoopla at the stage with scouts, the GM and Bettman all smiling goofy-like. Substance that could make a draft a pleasant memory is lacking up until some of the picks end up playing for and contributing to the big club.

As for steals: I was once told by a very informed and respected friend of mine who loved the Bolts to no end, that Brad Richards was destined to be a career minor leaguer. I see how Richards was a third round pick and I laugh and shake my head at this. That was a steal when you think about it. Richards would go on to win the Memorial Cup in the CHL with Rimouski, he’d come to the NHL and make an immediate impact. He won the Conn Smythe trophy, etc.

There’s another steal that happened in the 1996 draft… Now, people decry how weak that draft was but you can go through draft selections and find plenty of current NHL’ers… Some journeymen that never lived up to the hype and some that went beyond expectations. A young Czech named Pavel Kubina was selected in the 7th round of that draft by Phil Esposito. Kubina would end up contributing on the Lightning blue line for eight seasons… With Espo’s otherwise poor latter round track record, that was a monumental steal.

5. On the other end of the fence, describe some of the lowest moments for the Lightning. Which decisions stick out as some of their worst in the draft? Are there any bad choices (and missed opportunities) that hurt especially bad?

RAW CHARGE: I think that’s something that happens for most any team. I mean, a team will pick someone and tout them but they never live up to expectations while someone picked later would end up becoming a star.

Case in point, the 1993 NHL Draft: The Bolts (2nd ever draft) selected Kingston center Chris Gratton with the #3 pick in the draft. Gratton has been a contributing journeyman center for the most part in the NHL. Now look at some of the other picks from that first round: Paul Kariya (#4), Rob Neidermayer (#5), Victor Kozlov (#6), Jason Arnott, Saku Koivu, etc…

With the exception of the 1998 draft (which netted 4 members of the 2004 Stanley Cup championship roster), this was pretty much a lather-rinse-repeat thing for Phil Esposito as a GM at the draft… So basically the Lightning building a winner was set back from the start with a GM that was focused on the short-term instead of the long-term.

Not to say the same kind of goofs haven’t happened with Rick Dudley or Jay Feaster as GM, but Espo’s picks always seemed especially weak.

A true draft tragedy that did occure, however, was in 1997. A prospective ownership group (The Maloof family – who makes current ownership look like a class act group) was in negotiations to buy the team from the Lightning’s original Japanese owner but… well, wanted a test drive. They had one of their people involved in the draft and ended up sticking his hand in the cookie jar regarding the team makeup. The worst part about it is, the Maloofs didn’t even end up buying the Lightning. How can you let a prospective suitor control the future of the team before they’ve even decided to buy?

Soapbox Time

Feel free to add whatever else you’d like about the Lightning and the NHL draft. How do you feel about the future of the franchise?

RAW CHARGE: Ah, the NHL Draft… The grand spectacle of civic ass-kissing by 30 GM’s and Gary Bettman! Everyone has to get a cheap pop from those in attendance by saying how much they love the host city and yada-yada-yada… Compelling entertainment if I ever saw it! And what better way to spend your time than watching Bettman’s 5 dollar smirk as he reads the names of players he has no clue about! Transfixing!

Yeah, I gots me some problems with the NHL draft and how it’s conducted. How could you tell?

As for the Bolts and their future … well, lets just say that if things fall through, We’ll be seeing the entire roster off’ed in Saw 7. And if the opposite happens, they’ll be awarded their own CBS sitcom, “Seen Stamkos? – The Series!”

If you were the GM (Southeast Division edition)

March 3, 2009

(With the trade deadline upon us, Cycle like the Sedins decided to ask about 30 or so friends in the blogosphere to represent his or her team and answer the question: “What would you do if you were the GM during the trade deadline?”

Since things change in a heartbeat, the date of each person’s submission is listed next to each entry. So before you start screaming “BUT THEY TRADED HIM!” while food spills out of your mouth, we’re showing what they thought at the time.

Don’t like it? Then don’t buy it! Now get outta here you kids!!! This isn’t a library!!!)

Florida Panthers

(MAR 2)

Whale4ever from Litterbox Cats

If I were running the show, Jay Bouwmeester would be a Panther until July 1st. I understand the potential lunacy of allowing the guy to walk for nothing, but I’m firmly in the camp that demands keeping the team intact through the end of the season.

The Panthers desperately need playoff action, no secret there. The revenue, the local media focus, blah blah blah…all the usual tired reasons. Might make a depth move, but the club is pretty solid from top to bottom. Could really use a number one center (insert Olli Jokinen joke here), but again, I don’t blow it up.

If the Cats somehow don’t make the post-season, as Jacques Martin, I’m out of work.

Chris Kontos: This is the eternal debate… at least for the 2009 NHL Trading Deadline. Should Bow stay or should he go? Yes, the Panthers very well could make the playoffs this season and experience the revenue, money and local media windfalls. But when he signs with another team July 1st… will the Panthers make the playoffs next year? Ask the Atlanta Thrashers how that one year in the playoffs has paid off for them.

James O’Brien: It all depends on what they can get for Jay Bouwmeester. Honestly, they MUST receive at least one suitable roster player plus prospects. Is anyone willing to give that up? Perhaps we’ll find out tomorrow. The Panthers are on fire right now – way, way WAY more than the Thrashers ever were – and perhaps a playoff run on the team that drafted him would melt some of the ice off of Bow’s heart. Very thin ice for the Panthers.

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Atlanta Thrashers

Totally awesome Photoshop from Aaron Brown of Blueland Outsider:

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The Falconer from Bird Watchers Anonymous
(2/25)

The Thrashers have several pending Unrestricted Free Agents (Reasoner, Perrin, Havelid) all of whom are likely to be dealt. If I were GM I’d offer both Reasoner and Havelid one year deals for next season and if they decline trade them for draft picks or prospects.

As far as the non-UFA Thrashers, there has been some trade chatter about Colby Armstrong but the Thrashers have made clear they value what he brings and a team would have to overpay to get him in a trade. On the other hand, Erik Christensen who was obtained from Pittsburgh one
year ago has been mostly invisible all year, he’s probably available if anyone wants him. Others who could be available if the offer was right include Todd White (C), Jim Slater (S), Eric Boulton (W), Brett Sterling (LW), Garnet Exelby (D), Nathan Oystrick (D) and perhaps Johan
Hedberg (G). Note: Slava Kozlov has a no trade clause and from what I hear is not inclined to waive it.

(2/25)

Mortimer Peacock from Blueland Chronicle

Niclas Havelid and Marty Reasoner to playoff contenders for draft picks. One of the goalies needs to be moved; what we get depends on whether we move Lehtonen, Hedberg, or Pavelec.

Chris Kontos: Just trade Kovalchuk and get on with it. Yikes, when Marty Reasoner is your most tradeable asset things are either really good… or really bad. In this case… really, really bad.

James O’Brien:
Don’t, under any circumstances, trade Ilya Kovalchuk. Kidnap him from Russia to extend his contract next summer if you have to. Without Kovie the Thrashers might as well move to Kansas City. Seriously.

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Tampa Bay Lightning

Cassie from Boltsblog
(3/01)

If I were GM of the Tampa Bay Lightning in time for the trade deadline….

The first thing I’d do is put the ownership on waivers, but not really expecting anyone to pick them up. I’d send them down to the minors after they’d cleared waivers so they can screw up an AHL team instead while they’re trying to get the hang of this ownership/management thing. Then maybe I’d give them another go here in the next couple of years – see how they mature in the minors and all of that, you know.

Okay, here are some trades that I think could benefit the Lightning:

LW Pettinger & C Craig (TB) for D Weber (Nash.)

Saw I and Saw II (TB) for D Skoula (Minn.)

RW Hall, a draft pick, and all of ESPN’s Lightning bashing this season (TB) for D Hutchinson (Dal.)

C Lecavalier for all of the Montreal Canadiens – as well as all 24 of their Cup wins, Beliveau, Richard, Blake, Robinson, & Geoffrion (all that history is just weighing them down, and who needs that?)

All of the constant Canadian hockey press bashing of the Lightning & the Southeast Division for an automatic 8th seed in the East

The entire Edmonton Oilers team (players only) for all of the Tampa Bay Lightning – except for Lecavalier and St. Louis, of course

Owner Len Barrie & GM Lawton to Canada for some poutine & beer

Fort Lauderdale should trade the entire Florida Panthers organization to Portland, Oregon, for some environmental know-how – the Lightning need a larger fan base in the state of Florida

Chris Kontos: I love the idea of creating an automatic 8th seed for the team that comes in 2nd in the Southeast Division. Also, the first 2 Saw films for Skoula would be an excellent pick up.

James O’Brien: Wow, what a brutal year for Tampa Bay. Vincent Lecavalier and Martin St. Louis both have pretty solid contracts. So, keep Lecavalier and St. Louis along with Mike Smith and Steve Stamkos. Everyone else is fair game.

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Washington Capitals
CAPS chick from DC Cheap Seats
(2/28)

“If there was a way to get rid of Nylander, that would be my first move – there’s no way to sugarcoat the fact that he just doesn’t fit into the Caps lineup anymore. Sadly short of driving him out into the middle of nowhere and leaving him there, that doesn’t seem like a possibility. He’d probably just find his way back anyways, the little scamp.

Top of the list would be a vocal veteran presence and/or a puck-moving defenseman – someone like Kaberle or Pronger might be nice if they don’t ask too much in return. Package a prospect like Chris Bourque, maybe a pick or two or even one of the Caps’ current young defensemen for either one. And if a backup goaltender surfaced for the right price it might be worth exploring; Neuvirth and Varlamov have four games of NHL experience between them and that’s a little scary with the playoffs looming.

Of course, there’s always the old standby…more Russians!!”

Chris Kontos: Senator, I’ve seen Jose Theodore. I’ve known Jose Theodore. Jose Theodore is the goalie for the Washington Capitals. Jose Theodore… you are no playoff goaltender.

James O’Brien: This Capitals team is scary. It would be pretty cool if they made a Marian Hossa-type splashy signing only for a big name D guy or a UFA goalie. But it’s probably not going to happen.

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Carolina Hurricanes
Cory from Canes Country
(2/27)

A rational person who watches a team all season knows whether or not the team has “a shot.” This incarnation of the Hurricanes, in my mind, has little chance to win the Cup. That being said, a hot goalie can go a long way toward strengthening a cause — as people who watched the Hurricanes in 2006 know. But given the play of the team this season, I’d stand pat.

If the Hurricanes were going to win, it would be riding the waves of Cam Ward and Eric Staal, not on some mid-level rental player. With the farm system improving, it wouldn’t be prudent to sacrifice a prospect or draft pick for a player like that.

The team’s trade-able assets (Dennis Seidenberg, Chad LaRose) probably wouldn’t fetch enough return to justify removing them from a team that wants to make the playoffs. Anton Babchuk and Tuomo Ruutu are RFAs at season’s end, but the team will definitely want to make an effort to keep Ruutu and will likely do the same for Babchuk, which means it would take an impressive offer to pry either out of Raleigh. Now, if some former Plymouth Whaler becomes available, Jim Rutherford might possess me and make me do the deal. I wouldn’t be responsible for any move like that.

Chris Kontos: Excellent analysis from the deep south. Carolina is a decent team that would serve no benefit from a playoff rental.

James O’Brien: Could the Hurricanes benefit from a cheap trade for one of their old Stanley Cup run rentals? Maybe go after Doug Weight, Cory Stillman or Mark Recchi just for old times sake? Overall this team is pretty bland and should probably just hope for some kind of random lucky break.