The Tampa Bay Lightning like they’re in-state rivals the Florida Panthers are a young franchise. The Lightning was founded in 1992 by hockey Hall of Famer Phil Esposito. They have something the Florida Panthers do not have and that is a Stanley Cup. The Lightning achieves that in 2003-04 season right before the NHL would go into a lockout. They had some really bad seasons that have led to draft picks that have become franchise players. The Lightning has also had some good owners and bad ones. They currently have one of the best in all of the sports. ESPN rated the Tampa Bay Lightning as the best franchise in all of the sports when it comes to fan-friendly. Like all of the other teams, the Lightning has gone through many logo changes so far it is just three. Here are the four players on their Mount Rushmore.
Lecavalier was one of the best centers in Tampa Bay Lightning history. He was the first pick for the Lightning in 1998 NHL Draft. His tenure in Tampa Bay lasted 14 years. Lecavalier played 1,037 games in a Lightning uniform. He had 383 goals, 491 assists with 874 points. Lecavalier was one of the staples for Tampa Bay as they made their run for their first Stanley Cup. In the conference semifinals against the Montreal, Canadians Lecavalier had a game-winning goal in game four to send the Lightning to the conference finals. He has his number four jersey hanging in the rafters at Amalie Arena. Lecavalier was a fan favorite and one of the most beloved Lightning players.
Shortly after Lecavalier came in the Lightning took a chance on a player named Martin St. Louis. St. Louis was small in stature. He had played for the Calgary Flames before coming to Tampa Bay. St. Louis was right-wing and played on the same line with Vincent Lecavalier. He played 972 games with the Tampa Bay Lightning. St. Louis had 365 goals, 588 assists, and 953 points. He like Lecavalier was a huge part in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Many say that he had the biggest goal coming in game six of the Stanley Cup finals against the Flames. In double OT and the Lightning facing a 3-2 game series deficit. He scored to push the series back to Tampa were the Lightning won the cup. St. Louis also has his 26 jerseys hanging next to Lecavalier he was the first to have his jersey retired.
Stamkos came in after the Lecavalier and St. Louis era was coming to an end. He was drafted first overall in the 2008 NHL Draft. Many Tampa Bay Lightning fans were hoping to get the first pick in the NHL’s draft lottery. Stamkos has now taken his place. He is a sniper and has shown why the Lighting picked him. Stamkos has played 803 games so far for the Lightning. He has 422 goals and 410 assists with 832 points. Like Lecavalier, he had the help and mentoring of Martin St. Louis. Stamkos has come back from many injuries throughout his 12 years. One of them is happening right now. He is the leader of the Lightning and his leadership has been great as the Lightning continues to be a great team year after year.
Hedman is one of the best defensemen in Lightning history. He was drafted a year after Stamkos in the 2009 NHL Draft. It took a while for many to get to know Hedman. The Tampa Bay Lightning fans now know who he is. Hedman has played 762 games with 105 goals, 368 assists, and 473 points. He like Stamkos are franchise players. I can see both 91 and 77 next to 4 and 26 in the rafters at Amalie Arena. Hedman and Stamkos both will lead the Lightning into a bright future.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are a younger franchise compared to the original six. These four players fit on the mountain. Many, of course, will say that I missed a player that they think could be on the mountain. Two of them were staples for the Lightning and two currently are. As a Lightning fan, I think this team is in good hands. There is a lot of youth on the team. The franchise has good ownership and management. The thing that eludes Stamkos and Hedman is a Stanley Cup in which Lecavalier and St. Louis has. Let’s see if they can win one shortly.
Did I get the right players for the Tampa Bay Lightning Mount Rushmore? Leave a comment below.
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