It's a Pittsburgh thing
Lightning wing Ryan Malone, a Pittsburgh native and a former Penguins player, always will have a little western Pennsylvania in him.
What's the best thing about Pittsburgh?
It's a great sports town, and Primanti Bros. sandwiches are really good.
Isn't Pittsburgh famous for pierogies?
Yeah, they're good, but I still think Primanti Bros. is still the sandwich you have to try, with a nice beer, probably.
What do you get on yours?
Just the regular sandwich. You can get whatever you want with it. It comes with coleslaw and French fries on the sandwich, so you don't need to put too much on the side.
Ever been to Mount Washington?
The appeal is the view, but there also is some kind of fish market on top overlooking everything. It's pretty cool.
How about antiquing in the Strip District?
No, but there's all kinds of stuff, restaurants, everything you need. It's a cool little hangout down there.
What are jimmies?
Sprinkles on your ice cream.
What is "yinz"?
"Yinz all" instead of "you guys." "Yinz all going to the South Side?" You really know people are from Pittsburgh when you're speaking "yinzer."
When the Lightning faced the Canadiens in the 2004 Eastern Conference semifinals, the joke among sports writers was that you could not step on the Lightning logo on the locker room carpet at the St. Pete Times Forum. "The Canadiens have 24 Stanley Cups and you can step on the logo," one Montreal writer said.
The tradition that began with former Lightning captains Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor is still enforced. It is the same in Pittsburgh, where the Penguins logo in their locker room at the Consol Energy Center is just as sacred.
Home sweet home
When Dana Heinze was the Lightning's assistant equipment manager, he would take on road trips homemade signs festooned with Tampa Bay's logo. He believed the signs gave the visiting locker rooms a homey feel. Heinze, who was with Tampa Bay for the 2004 Stanley Cup run, is now head equipment manager for the Penguins and has the same sign fetish.
After each win, the Lightning's most valuable players, as picked by the coaches, get either a cape with the letters DNA on the back (for best representation of the makeup of the team) or one of those Viking hats with horns on the sides. In Pittsburgh, the player of the game gets a shovel, which is handed off by the recipient after the next win.
Shirts on their backs
Lightning players are wearing blue T-shirts with "HUNT IT NOW" on the front over a picture of the Stanley Cup. But the real fun is on the sleeves.
On the left are the letters RFS, which stand for Relentless, Fight and Structure. On the right is what appears to be a silhouette of a John Travolta-like figure striking a disco-dancing pose. That plays off one of the Bee Gees' songs from the 1970s movie Saturday Night Fever, Stayin' Alive, which is what the team has to do in the playoffs.
"We've had a fun group this year," said assistant coach Dan Lacroix, who thought of using the dancing silhouette. "We want to keep the fun going."
At the end of warmups, Marty St. Louis makes sure he taps the Tampa Bay goal post. The Lightning wing has done it for years. He declined to say why.
"I just do it," he said. "It's part of my routine. If I didn't do it, I wouldn't feel right."
Asked if he had other stuff like that, St. Louis smiled and said, "Oh, yeah, but let's not get into it."
When the Lightning goes onto the ice for warmups, captain Vinny Lecavalier, as first in line, uses his stick to sweep the pucks piled pyramid-style on the top of the boards onto the ice. Lecavalier, in his 12th season, says he has done this since his second year.
He said if he didn't do it, he would be "weird," but added, "I don't get rattled about things. I used to. If something didn't happen, it would be, 'What do I do?' I don't really get rattled anymore."
Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer