Marty St. Louis celebrates with Rangers and former Lightning teammate Brad Richards after scoring the winning goal in overtime of Game 4 of the Eastern Conference final.
Marty and Brad are going back.
Back to the Stanley Cup Finals, that is, as former Lightning stars Marty St. Louis and Brad Richards led the Rangers to a 1-0 victory over the Canadiens in Game 6 Thursday night, making them Eastern Conference champions. Fittingly, it was another ex-Lightning forward, Dominic Moore, who scored the only goal.
It's the first time either St. Louis or Richards have made the finals since Tampa Bay won the Stanley Cup in 2004, and fittingly the 10-year anniversary is next weekend. St. Louis, 38, who drew criticism for requesting a trade to New York, and dealt with the unexpected loss of his mother, France, three weeks ago, took time to reflect Thursday night.
"This is the reason why I came here," St. Louis said outside the team's dressing room. " This is what I thought about when I came here. I thought that this group had the key element for this kind of experience, I thought I could add something, and it's tough to leave a team that you’ve been there for 13, 14 years, but it makes everything right, right now."Full Story
Marty St. Louis' hands are all over New York's improbable run, from his 13 playoff points to how his new teammates rallied around him when his mother, France, died a few weeks ago.
While the Lightning was eliminated a month ago, former captain Marty St. Louis skates on, leading the Rangers to within one win of reaching the Stanley Cup Final.
"We've put ourselves in a good spot right now," St. Louis said before tonight's Game 6 at Madison Square Garden, the Rangers up 3-2 over the Canadiens. "But we've accomplished nothing yet."
St. Louis' hands are all over New York's improbable run, from his 13 playoff points to how his new teammates rallied around him when his mother, France, died a few weeks ago. And despite being a Ranger for less than three months, photos of him are all over the wall at Madison Square Garden.
Now, trades should be evaluated after years, but so far, the Rangers have fared better in the blockbuster deadline deal that swapped St. Louis for New York captain Ryan Callahan and two draft picks. Callahan played well for Tampa Bay, providing the type of grit and toughness the team needed, but admittedly didn't perform like he wanted as the Lightning got swept by Montreal in the first round. And the Rangers can punch their ticket to the finals tonight, bringing them a step closer to their first title since 1994. …Full Story
Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois has been considered one of the league's up-and-coming executives the past few years.
So it comes as little surprise that the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported BriseBois is "prominent" on the Penguins list of candidates for their vacant general manager job. Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman declined to confirm whether any organization, including the Penguins, have requested permission to speak to BriseBois.
But Yzerman is a strong believer BriseBois, 37, his right-hand man since 2010, would be an "outstanding" general manager.
"It's only a matter of time before he gets his opportunity," Yzerman said. "He's going to make an outstanding manager, he's got tremendous experience at all facets and responsibilities of a general manager. He's going to have a long and outstanding career as a GM."
Lightning rookie center Tyler Johnson's big year just got even better.
Johnson, 23, a Calder Memorial Trophy Finalist, has signed a three-year, $10-million deal with Tampa Bay that keeps him through the 2016-2017 season. Johnson was set to be a restricted free agent on July 1, but agent Mark MacKay said negotations were "easy," as both sides were eager to get a deal done.
"He had an outstanding first year in the league," Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said. "He's one of several restricted free agents that we intend to get resigned and this gets us started. We're happy to have him under contract and expected to get him signed, so he can continue his development.
Johnson set a Lightning rookie record with 24 goals this season (and 50 points), flourishing on the top line. He carried that momentum into the World Championships, leading Team USA with six goals, before the Americans were eliminated in the quarterfinals. …Full Story
The USA's Tyler Johnson, right, scores past the Czech Republic's Alexander Salak during the Group A Quarterfinal match today in Minsk, Belarus.
Lightning rookie center Tyler Johnson made a strong impression for Team USA at the World Championships.
And Johnson nearly helped pull off a dramatic comeback in today's quarterfinal against the Czech Republic.
USA trailed 4-1 thanks to three power play goals by the Czechs, but made a furious charge late in the third period - including two goals in 13 seconds by Johnson - before falling 4-3 to get eliminated from the tournament.
"At times in life you have a choice of two roads, and in adversity they chose the right one today," USA coach Peter Laviolette told the IHF web site. "We found ourselves in trouble but we kept fighting and pushing the game in the third and never gave up.
"I'm disappointed that our tournament stops here, but I'm proud of the way we played."
Johnson, a finalist for NHL Rookie of the Year, had an impressive showing in the tournament, scoring a team-high six goals for the Americans. He played on the top line for USA, logging heavy minutes, a key cog on the power play. Should do a lot for his confidence as he enters next season with Tampa Bay.
Former Lightning stars Marty St. Louis and Brad Richards have taken center stage when it comes to the Rangers run into the Eastern Conference Final.
The Rangers rallying around St. Louis, who recently lost his mother, has been the biggest storyline.
But with the Canadiens trailing New York 2-0 in the best-of-series, it's another former Tampa Bay player that is under the most pressure.
Montreal rookie goaltender Dustin Tokarski, 24, will make his second straight start in Game 3 Thursday at Madison Square Garden, as the Canadiens backs are against the wall. Tokarski, drafted in 2008 by the Lightning, spent five years in the organization (playing just seven NHL games), before getting traded to the Canadiens Feb. 2013 for fellow goalie Cedrick Desjardins.
Tokarski has big shoes to fill, stepping in for Canadiens star goalie Carey Price, who was injured in Game 1. Tokarski did pretty well in Game 2, stopping 27 of 30 shots in a 3-1 loss, bested only by Rangers star goaltender Henrik Lundqvist, who stopped 40 of 41. …Full Story
DANIEL WALLACE | Times
Lightning goalie prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy has stopped 66 of 67 shots over two games for undefeated Russia at the World Championship tournament in Minsk.
Lightning goalie prospect Andrei Vasilevskiy may be in a backup role for Russia at the World Championship, but he's been turning heads in Minsk.
Vasilevskiy, 19, has stopped 66 of 67 shots over two games for undefeated Russia. He drew plenty of praise after his first Worlds start, making 37 of 38 saves in a 6-1 win over the United States.
One Russian Hall of Famer even brought up the name of Vladislav Tretiak, one of the best goalies of all-time.
“Tretiak also broke into the national championship and the national team when he was very young,” Olympic champion Alexander Pashkov told the IHF web site, iihfworlds2014.com. “Like him, Vasilevski has great natural ability and last season he was the strongest goalie in the KHL. You could also see this in the last two World Junior Championships. I’m sure he can become a world class player.”
No one is saying Vasilevskiy is the next Tretiak, the goaltender for those dominant Russian teams. But this tournament will no doubt be another confidence builder for him. The Lightning hasn't decided where he'll play next season, whether it's at AHL Syracuse, or whether he'll be able to compete for the backup job behind Ben Bishop. …Full Story
DIRK SHADD | Times
Ryan Callahan, 29, impressed the Lightning after coming over from the Rangers in March in the Marty St. Louis trade, bringing the kind of gritty style the team needed.
There's no question the Lightning would love to re-sign forward Ryan Callahan.
"As long as I'm coaching this team, I want Ryan Callahan on the bench," coach Jon Cooper said. "I don't know how much stronger I can be about that."
Agent Steven Bartlett said Wednesday the Lightning made a strong case to keep Callahan, who is a free agent, but there's always that "temptation" of July 1st, when he can at least see what other teams might be offering.
Callahan, 29, impressed the Lightning after coming over from the Rangers in March in the Marty St. Louis trade, bringing the kind of gritty style the team needed. He racked up 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 20 games, though didn't play as well as he wanted in the playoffs. Whether Tampa Bay can re-sign him to a long-term deal will be one of the biggest lingering offseason questions.
"There's no question he did enjoy it," Bartlett said. "He was impressed by the organization and everybody, from the city and the fans, everything was positive. I think the city made a good case for itself, the team made a good case. There's always the temptation of July 1st. …Full Story
With the Rangers pulling off their comeback Tuesday night and reaching the conference final, that means the Lightning will receive an additional first round pick in June's draft (instead of a second-rounder), per conditions of the Ryan Callahan-Marty St. Louis deal.
The fact ex-Lightning stars Brad Richards and St. Louis teamed up on the go-ahead goal in New York's 2-1 victory in Game 7 over the Penguins only added to the irony.
So now the Lightning will have two first-round picks in both June's draft and next year's draft. While Tampa Bay could very well use all those picks on prospects, it also gives them options if they want to dangle a pick or two in trade scenarios.
The Lightning still has some needs to fill for next season, whether that means finding another top defenseman, or bringing in some more toughness overall. And if Tampa Bay is unable to re-sign Callahan, it'll likely need another top-six forward. Or, since the Lightning will pick in the No. 18 range (and 26-29th) for their second first-round pick, they could try to move up.
General manager Steve Yzerman now just has a few more picks up his sleeve.
While the Lightning is out of the playoffs, it has a significant stake in tonight's Rangers-Penguins Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
If New York wins, completing it's comeback from a 3-1 deficit to make the conference final, the conditional 2014 second round pick Tampa Bay received in the Ryan Callahan-Marty St. Louis deal becomes a first round pick.
Having two first round picks in this year's draft would be a significant asset, whether it comes to trade potential, or being able to stock up two more prospects into their system. The Lightning, as of now, won't have a very high pick, considering it finished in second place in the division.
Meanwhile, the Rangers could benefit if the Lightning is able to re-sign Callahan this summer to a long-term deal. If that's the case, and Callahan is open to it (though will have other suitors), the Rangers will receive a second-round pick in the 2015 draft, and the Lightning will get an additional seventh round pick that year.
So if you're a Lightning fan, does that make you want to root for St. Louis a little more tonight?Full Story
Lightning goalie uberprospect Andrei Vasilevskiy did nothing to temper the hype in his first World Championship start Monday.
Vasilevskiy, 19, Tampa Bay's first-round pick in 2012, was impressive in stopping 37 of 38 shots for Russia in a dominating 6-1 win over the United States in pool play in Minsk.
"Looked very good," said Lightning assistant general manager Julien BriseBois, who is at the tournament. "Was under control and made the saves looks easy, especially during the second period when Team USA had many scoring chances. Was a key contributor in Russia's win."
Vasilevskiy was recently signed to a three-year entry-level deal, though Tampa Bay hasn't decided where or how they're going to use him next season, whether that's the American Hockey League or as Ben Bishop's backup.
Vasilevskiy did have a strong year last season in the KHL, going 14-8 with three shutouts in 28 games with a 2.21 goals against average and .923 save percentage. And getting a chance to play at Worlds should be another beneficial experience as he develops. …Full Story
The 10th anniversary of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup Championship will be celebrated at the Tampa Bay History Center (801 Old Water Street) on Saturday, June 7 from 11 a.m.-1 p.m.
Former Lightning captain Dave Andreychuk, as well as other alumni from that Cup-winning team will talk about their title and meet those who attend event. Play by play announcer Rick Peckham will host a Q&A.
Tickets for the two hour 10th anniversary program will cost $15 for Tampa Bay History Center members and $20 for the general public and can be purchased at www.tampabayhistorycenter.org
More from the team: …Full Story
New Tampa Bay Times Lightning beat reporter Joe Smith
I'm excited to take over the Tampa Bay Lightning beat, hoping to continue the strong standard set by Damian Cristodero, whom I've had the pleasure of working with the last several years.
It seems somewhat fitting to be covering hockey, because it's a sport that sparked my interest in getting into sportswriting more than a decade ago.
After growing up in the Detroit suburbs, not far from "Hockeytown," I attended the University of Michigan, where my first big beat at The Michigan Daily was covering the Wolverines hockey team. I enjoyed every minute of it, making the mile walk to Yost Ice Arena for each practice, seemingly learning something new every day from coach Red Berenson, the long-time NHL player and coach.
Getting to follow the team, including on road trips to Minneapolis, Albany and the Upper Peninsula, I developed a passion for beat writing, chronicling the daily drama, from the news to gamers to human-interest stories. …Full Story
No matter how you feel about the way Marty St. Louis forced his departure from Tampa Bay, the former Lightning captain drew compassion around the hockey world Friday night.
St. Louis, 38, took the ice with the Rangers just one day after his mother, France, 63, died, reportedly of the aftereffects of a heart attack. St. Louis, 38, who flew back to his hometown of Montreal Thursday, returned to Pittsburgh Friday to help New York stave off elimination with a 5-1 win over the Penguins.
The Rangers are still down 3-2 heading into Game 6 In New York on Sunday, Mother’s Day.
“She was a great lady, best human being I’ve ever known in my life,” St. Louis told The New York Post. “I owed it to her to do it. I know she would want me to do it. It was a tough day for everyone, but we’re going to keep pushing.”
When St. Louis went back to Montreal, he had the opportunity to see his mother’s body, and talked over the situation with his father, Normand.
“I think he needed that too, me to play,” St. Louis said. “I know he’s proud and I know my mom’s proud now.” …Full Story
The IHF World Championships begin Friday in Belarus, and the Lightning will be well-represented.
Five players/prospects will be representing their country in the tournament, which ends May 25. Center Tyler Johnson, a finalist for the Calder Memorial Trophy (NHL Rookie of the Year), will play for the United States, joining right wing Richard Panik (Slovakia), defenseman Dmitry Korobov (Belarus), goalies Kristers Gudlevskis (Latvia) and Andrei Vasilevskii (Russia).
For more information on the Worlds, check out http://www.iihfworlds2014.com.Full Story