The Tampa Bay Lightning often referred to as the Bolts, is a professional ice hockey team that plays in the Atlantic Division of the Eastern Conference of the NHL. The team plays its home games in Amalie Arena and won the Stanley Cup Championship in the 2003-04 season.
Hall of Famers Phil and Tony Esposito won the franchise for the Tampa Bay Lightning in the NHL expansion of the late 1980s. They competed with St. Petersburg-based group fronted by Peter Karmanos and Jim Rutherford, who would later own the Hartford Whalers/Carolina Hurricanes. After winning the Franchise the Esposito group name the team the Lightning after Tampa Bay's status as the "Lightning Capital of North America."
Phil Esposito installed himself as president and general manager, while Tony became the chief scout. Terry Crisp, who played for the Philadelphia Flyers when they won two Stanley Cups in the mid-1970s and coached the Calgary Flames to a Stanley Cup in 1989, was tapped as the first head coach. Phil also hired former teammates from the Boston Bruins including Wayne Cashman as an assistant coach and former Bruin trainer John "Frosty" Forristal as the team's trainer.
Manon Rheaume was the first woman to play in an NHL game and the first woman to play in any of the major professional North American sports leagues. She goaltended for the Lightning against the St. Louis Blues and stopped seven of nine shots.
In the 2003-04 regular season, the Lightning finished with a record of 46–22–8–6 for 106 points, second-best in the NHL after the Western Conference's Detroit Red Wings—the first 100-point season in franchise history. In the first round of the playoffs, the Lightning ousted the Alexei Yashin-led New York Islanders in five games, with solid play from goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, who posted three shutouts in Games 1, 3 and 4.
Their opponent in the Stanley Cup Finals was the Calgary Flames, captained by Jarome Iginla. The final round went the full seven games with Ruslan Fedotenko as the Game 7 hero, scoring both goals that led the Lightning to a 2-1 victory for the Championship title. Brad Richards, who had 26 points in the post-season, won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs; the Lightning had won all 31 contests in which he had scored a goal since the opening of the season.
Cover image by Clyde on Flickr is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0. Information courtesy of Wikipedia.