Steven Stamkos' excellent adventure
Talked about this a little in the previous post and touched on it more in the game story in Wednesday's paper, but I wanted to give a little more background to the little trick the team played on rookie Steven Stamkos before Tuesday's game.
We all know the story about Stamkos, last summer's No. 1 draft choice, growing up in the Toronto suburb of Unionville, and that Tuesday was his first NHL game at the Air Canada Centrre. So, the Lightning players, who have really taken to Stamkos ("He's always smiling," captain Vinny Lecavalier said), decided to let him skate onto the ice first during warmups. What Stamkos didn't know is that his teammates were going to hold up in the runway to the ice and have him skate out by himself. It worked as it took Stamkos about a half a lap of the Lightning zone to realize he was out there alone.
"I guess it was one of those rookie initiation things that I've never heard of," Stamkos said. "I guess we're going to start doing it every time here if we keep winning."
"It was pretty funny," goaltender Mike Smith said. "He got a chuckle out of it. He looked back and he was the only one on the ice and he had a grin on his face and shook his head. He gave me a tap on the pads when I went out there, so it was pretty funny, and I'm sure a moment he will never forget."
It was a good moment for the players as well. But it was Stamkos, who showed class by knowing when it is okay to laugh at one's self.
"When I was behind the net, I thought Smitty was behind me," Stamkos said. "I looked back and he gave me a little grin through his mask. I felt a little ashamed there, but I don't think many people noticed. It was pretty funny."