Former Tampa Bay Lightning G Nikolai Khabibulin on being back in Tampa: "Just a good feeling overall"
Nikolai Khabibulin, who backstopped the Tampa Bay Lightning to the 2004 Stanley Cup championship, played Thursday at the Tampa Bay Times Forum for the first time since Game 7 against the Flames.
Here are excerpts from his interview with Edmonton and Tampa Bay area reporters:
On finally returning to play in Tampa: It feels good. It brings a lot of good memories, so I'm pretty excited. It's just nice to be back, and from the memories standpoint to be back and see everything. It's just a good feeling overall.
On what he recalls of Game 7: Not shift-to-shift, but I remember a lot of things, obviously all the goals. I mean, after Calgary scored a goal I think there were still 10 minutes to go, and I think it was the longest 10 minutes of hockey I ever played. ... We got the victory and that was the best moment.
On carrying the Stanley Cup on the ice: That's probably one of the best memories for hockey for me. It's the ultimate goal every kid dreams of. When I got here (from Russia), you see how exciting it is for people who have accomplished this already and how everybody is dreaming of it. And once you achieve that, it's a great feeling. When you raise that, it's the ultimate.
On Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis asking fans to cheer him: It's definitely a great feeling when your ex-teammates speak of you nicely. I hope that I was a good teammate when I was here, and if they say that it probably proves that a little bit.
On St. Louis as a teammate: When I was here he was always the heart and soul of this team, kind of like the energizer battery, you can say that. When he's out there a lot of guys feed off him. He was such a large part of that team.
On the Tampa Bay area as a hockey market: I would say it's a warm climate but I had a lot of fun here. The fan base was pretty good, especially once we started winning and more people got on board. I think it was a fine place to play, and in the playoffs it was pretty crazy, as loud as any building in the league if not one of the loudest.