TAMPA – It didn’t take long for Ben Bishop to remember the feeling of home.
It hit him while he was sitting at Ulele Wednesday night with some of his Dallas teammates and walking around the same stomping grounds where he and his wife spent four and a half years of their life together.
“Nothing but good times, and kind of a second home,” he said with a smile. “A lot of good people I met here, a lot of friends. Just seeing the workers around the rink, it’s fun to see them again.”
Bishop said a few people recognized him at the popular Tampa restaurant. Knowing that many Lightning fans still wear his name and old jersey number on their backs to every home game also offers a warm feeling.
“It’s a special place in my heart and this city, obviously a lot of great memories,” the Dallas goalie said after the morning skate on Thursday.
Bishop’s return to Tampa, however, is dampened by the fact that the 6-foot-7 goalie remains on the IR list. Dealing with an upper-body injury, Bishop will sit out his fourth consecutive game tonight as the Lightning take on the Dallas Stars at home. When asked if he was happy about not having to face his old team, he indicated he was rather disappointed.
“I think you really want to go out there in the games you want to play, and kind of give it to them a little bit,” he said. “Sure, they’re a great team but you like those challenges as a goalie, at least shut them down and have bragging rights for a little bit. But not much you can do about it.”
Despite being traded to the Los Angeles Kings almost two years ago, and again to the Stars just three months later, he’s honored to see so many Lightning fans offer him a warm welcome.
Jemma Cropanese, of Tampa, wears her blue Lightning Bishop jersey every game. She’ll cheer for him when he’s here and playing, but she still roots for the home team to win.
Ronnie and Don Goodheart, also of Tampa, used to live in the same apartment complex as Bishop when he played for the Lightning.
They had a brief interaction with him when he confused their apartment for his own (they lived in the same quad just two floors above him). They miss seeing him in blue, but said the trade wasn’t personal, just business.
“We love him,” Don said. “I think he’ll get a great reception because of how much the fans love him.”
And for Bishop, the sentiment is the same.
“A lot of good memories,” he said, “and we had a lot of good years here.”
Contact Mari Faiello at [email protected]. Follow @faiello_mari.