Thursday, July 19, 2018
Tampa Bay Lightning

A Paquette family reunion in the Lightning locker room

TAMPA —The eastern Quebec town of Gaspe is filled with the extended Paquette family, so many that gathering them all in one place is a daunting task. In fact, it has never happened.

"We're a big family. We're huge," Lightning prospect Christopher Paquette said. "I have so many cousins, I don't know them all. Some I haven't met."

There are chance meetings here and there, some around town, some in far-flung places like the hallway outside the visitor's dressing room at Amalie Arena.

That is where Christopher Paquette bumped into Cedric, a distant cousin who plays center for the Lightning.

Christopher has followed Cedric's hockey career. Watched him on TV. Read family posts about him on Facebook. But until one morning two weeks ago during rookie camp, the two had never met.

"Oh I recognized him," Christopher said. "For sure I recognized him."

Cedric walked over to that side of locker room area to say hi. Both were busy. Cedric said they would catch up later.

"It's pretty bizarre," Cedric said. "I knew he was playing hockey in Ontario, but I didn't know if he was going to get drafted. I didn't know how good he was. When he got drafted, I thought I knew the name. I called my dad, and he said, 'Yeah, he's a cousin.' "

Cedric grew up in Gaspe. The 23-year-old began his climb to the Lightning in 2010 when he joined the Montreal Juniors. He was a fourth-round pick by the Lightning in 2012.

Christopher, 18, did not grow up in Gaspe, just visited. Loves the place. Loves being with his family. But his father, a cousin of Cedric's dad, joined the Navy and moved around Canada.

Christopher was born in Victoria, British Columbia, and lived for a time in Halifax, Nova Scotia. He now lives in Kingston, Ontario, which is 12 hours south of Gaspe.

A fifth-round pick last June by the Lightning, Christopher plays center for the Niagara IceDogs in the Ontario Hockey League. He will continue to play for them two more seasons before beginning what he expects to be his climb through the Lightning organization.

"When it's the right time, maybe go up," he said.

Christopher's time in Lightning camp this month will be short. Because of his age he is still the property of his junior team. But he's glad for the chance to work with the top coaches in the organization and perform in front of the decision-makers, including general manager Steve Yzerman. And he's thrilled to share a building, if not some ice time, with the members of the NHL club.

"Learn and try to develop," he said, "and bring those back to juniors and hopefully develop those skills."

Christopher is not sure the Lightning knew he was related to Cedric when it scouted him. Heck, neither was Cedric until he placed that call to his dad.

The two have a similar build, as you might expect. Cedric is 6 feet 1, 199 pounds. Christopher is 6-1, 207.

Their games are similar, Christopher said, though he's a right-hand shot and Cedric shoots left-handed.

"I try to play a 200-foot game," he said. "Backcheck. Forecheck. Support the defense. Try and add to the attack."

Christopher said his game is not as, ah, feisty as his cousin's.

The two planned to have dinner before Christopher heads north to prepare for his season. He will return to the IceDogs thrilled to have this opportunity with the Lightning and glad to have finally met the cousin everyone in the family has talked about for years.

He even survived a rookie hiccup on his first day.

"It's special. It's obviously a big dream," Christopher said. "I almost got lost my first day. I was outside (the arena) and I didn't know where to go in."

He does now. And he can say he knows another cousin.

Comments
Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

Hereís our Mount Rushmore for the Lightning

The Lightning just celebrated its 25th anniversary season — long enough to have a Mount Rushmore.Here it is:Marty St. Louis (2000-14)St. Louis is the all-time franchise leader in points and the only Lightning player to make the Hall of Fame aft...
Published: 07/13/18
Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

Lightning names AHLís Derek Lalonde as new assistant

The Lightning has completed Jon Cooper's coaching staff for the upcoming season, announcing on Thursday the hiring of Derek Lalonde, who spent the last two seasons as head coach of the American Hockey League's Iowa Wild.Lalonde, 45, has steadily work...
Published: 07/12/18
Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

Lightning re-signs left wing Adam Erne to one-year contract

A busy few weeks of re-signing players continued Wednesday, as the Lightning brought back the last of their restricted free agents, signing left wing Adam Erne to a one-year, $800,000 contract for 2018-19.Erne, 23, was a second-round pick in 2013 and...
Published: 07/11/18
Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

Lightning locks up Nikita Kucherov with 8-year, $76 million extension

CLEARWATER — Nikita Kucherov could have waited a year, allowing the demand for a top young NHL scorer to escalate as he hit restricted free agency next summer.But when the Lightning made him an offer to become the highest-paid player in the tea...
Published: 07/10/18
Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

Lightning signs Nikita Kucherov to richest contract in team history

The Lightning took another step toward securing its future Tuesday by announcing that right wing Nikita Kucherov will sign the richest contract in franchise history.Kucherov's eight-year contract extension will pay him an average of $9.5 million star...
Published: 07/10/18
Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

Kucherov signing helps Lightning finish what it started

TAMPA — The Erik Karlsson sweepstakes hasn't ended for the Lightning.But the Nikita Kucherov sweepstakes is over before it began.The Lightning has locked up its star right winger. An eight-year extension that begins in the 2019-20 season will p...
Published: 07/10/18
Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

Meet the girl behind the Marty St. Louis sign

ST. PETERSBURG — When the call from the Hall came, there she was again.The girl with the "I (heart) U Marty" sign, in the newspaper again, this time on the cover of the June 27 Tampa Bay Times sports section. She was frozen in time, doing what ...
Published: 07/07/18
What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

What might Lightning give up to get Erik Karlsson?

TAMPA — Shortly after the excitement of the real possibility Thursday night that the Lightning could be trading for defenseman Erik Karlsson, fans quickly came to an uneasy place: What exactly would Tampa Bay give up to get the two-time Norris ...
Published: 07/06/18
The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

The Lightning advantage in Erik Karlsson trade talks

He wants to be here.This is the place.In case you'd missed it amid the gloom and doom of a Lightning season that came up short again, there are still people who want to play in Tampa Bay.One of them is Erik Sven Gunnar Karlsson of Landsbro, Sweden. T...
Published: 07/06/18
Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Sports Day Tampa Bay podcast: Will the Lightning trade for Erik Karlsson?

Rick Stroud returns from vacation to discuss reports that the Lightning will acquire star defenseman Erik Karlsson from the Ottawa Senators.He also talks about reaction to Jameis Winston's three-game suspension, the Rays' crazy home stand and which p...
Published: 07/06/18